Pros and Cons of Selling Restaurant Merchandise

Branding is very important in the foodservice industry because having strong branding can bring in new customers and foster customer loyalty, which is good for business. There are many ways that you can build your restaurant's brand, and one of the best ways is through branded merchandise. But, branded merchandising might not be the best idea for every establishment. Here we'll break down different types of merchandise you can offer, compare the pros and cons, and give some tips for making your merchandise successful.

What Is Branded Merchandise?

Branded merchandise is a collection of products that feature your business's logo, which you can sell to increase customer loyalty. Loyal customers are very important for businesses because they provide a steady stream of income that business owners can always rely on.

Different Types of Merchandise

restaurant branded merchandise

There are many different types of branded merchandise that your establishment can offer, although not all of them will be the right fit for every business. Here are some of the most popular types of branded merchandise to give you an idea of what kind of merch you can offer at your establishment.

  • Clothing: T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, sweatpants, flip-flops, hats
  • Glasses: Beer, shot, whiskey, or martini glasses
  • Accessories: Tote bags, umbrellas, wristbands
  • Food: BBQ dry rubs, salsa, syrups, sauces, jams
  • Miscellaneous: Pens, bumper stickers, stickers, coasters

Pros and Cons of Offering Branded Merchandise

While offering branded merchandise can be an excellent way to build brand loyalty, it may not be a viable option for every foodservice operation. Here, we'll weigh the pros and cons of offering branded merch to help you decide whether selling it at your establishment is a good idea.

Pros of Selling Branded Merchandise

Depending on your business style and customers, offering branded merchandise can be an extremely profitable investment. Here are some of the benefits that your restaurant can receive if you create your own branded merchandise:

branded restaurants
  • Branded merchandise capitalizes on the loyalty of your customers. If your customers buy merchandise with your logo on it, they'll be reminded of your restaurant every time they see it, which will persuade them to visit.
  • It is an excellent way to get free advertisement. This is especially true with branded clothing, because other people will see your logo when customers are walking around town. The clothing can be a conversation starter and a great way for your restaurant to get around via word of mouth.
  • One of the most obvious benefits of offering branded merchandise is the financial gains. If you have a large following of loyal customers, branded merchandise can be a major source of income for your business.

Cons of Selling Branded Merchandise

While, for some businesses, branded merchandise can be a very profitable venture that can boost your brand recognition, it doesn't work for every type of establishment. Here are some possible downsides to offering branded merchandise in your establishment:

  • Offering merchandise at your restaurant or bar will only be profitable if there is demand for your products and if you can order them for the right price. Additionally, some types of merchandise are cheaper to produce than others, so you can choose options that meet your needs and that fit your budget.
  • There might not be customer demand for your branded products. Before investing in your own line of merchandise, survey your loyal customers and gauge their interest in buying branded items.
  • It can be hard to find a good way to display your merchandise, especially if you have a small dining area or lobby. To solve this issue, use revolving racks to show off postcards and branded glasses and hang branded clothing on the wall for guests to see and consider while they eat.

Tips for Selling Branded Merchandise

Once you've decided to create your own branded products, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that they're successful. Here are some tips for ensuring that your line of restaurant merchandise does well:

How to sell merchandise
  • Giveaways: You can make your merchandise valuable by creating an exclusive contest. This also helps create buzz and interest, and it's a great option when first introducing your new product line. Giveaways are also very shareable on social media, which helps grow your online presence and brand.
  • Discounts for Guests Who Buy Merch: If you don't want to give away your merch for free, there are other discounts you can offer. For example, you can offer a 10% discount with the purchase of a t-shirt. Offering discounts make your customers feel like they're getting a deal, while you're still making a profit.
  • Buy One Get One Free: This is an excellent option for bars and nightclubs that offer branded glasses. For example, you can offer personalized mugs or beer glasses for a premium, and include one free drink in the price. Offering a free drink along with the purchase makes it more appealing to customers.
  • Limited Time Offers: Offering merchandise for a limited amount of time increases the urgency and gives your customers less time to think it over, instead relying on impulse buys. Additionally, because the merchandise won't be around forever, customers on the fence will be more likely to take the plunge and make a purchase.

Offering branded merchandise can be a very valuable venture, and it can be an excellent way to grow your brand. But, you should do careful research beforehand to ensure that there is enough customer demand and interest in merchandise before making an investment. Additionally, once you’ve created your products, you can help boost sales by implementing giveaways, discounts, and other marketing tactics.

Posted in: Advertising & Marketing | By Richard Traylor

What Are Ghost Restaurants?

If you're tuned into restaurant trends, you may have heard of ghost restaurants. These new types of foodservice establishments are increasing in popularity as more and more restaurateurs decide to depart from traditional brick-and-mortar establishments and focus on delivery instead. If you want to learn more about what ghost restaurants are, how they work, and how you can start a successful one, keep reading.

What Is a Ghost Restaurant?

A ghost restaurant, also known as a virtual restaurant or delivery-only restaurant, is a foodservice establishment that offers take-out only. These “ghostly” eateries don’t have a storefront, so customers can’t come to pick up their own food. Ghost restaurants deliver food directly to their patrons, often through the use of third-party delivery services.

Generally, virtual restaurants function just like traditional restaurants, in that customers’ food is prepared once they order it. As a result, many establishments offer a lot of customization options for their menu items.

Where Do Ghost Restaurants Work Best?

what is a ghost restaurant

This type of foodservice model is especially great for high-rent areas. Instead of hoping to find a prime location to draw foot traffic, restaurateurs can establish their virtual restaurant in any neighborhood they see fit, so long as their delivery service can easily access customers.

Many popular fast-casual establishments in cities are bound by the requirement for seating and waiting space, even though a large percentage of their customers aren’t dining in. So, offering only delivery helps virtual restaurants avoid the problem of underutilized space.

What Can Ghost Restaurants Do That Traditional Restaurants Can’t?

Without a brick-and-mortar location, ghost restaurants allow more flexibility of concept. Being app- or web-based means that you can change your menu whenever you like, without having to worry about updating signage or printed materials. If an ingredient becomes too expensive or is no longer accessible in your area, you can easily swap out your menu items to suit what is available to you.

If you choose to open a virtual restaurant, you can be more creative than you could with a traditional establishment. Compared to a brick-and-mortar eatery, your investment in a ghost restaurant is small. Think about all the expensive elements that don’t apply to virtual restaurants: decor, signage, dinnerware, and additional staff members to serve as servers or hosts. Ghost restaurants are the perfect opportunity to experiment with new concepts, because you can easily scrap ideas that aren’t working.

What Is a Ghost Restaurant Kitchen Like?

In virtual restaurants, the kitchen is where a lot of your investment goes. Because you don’t have to allow square footage for a dining area, you have much more room to customize your kitchen space. Depending on your budget, you can opt for some specialized cooking equipment that you probably never had room for in a traditional restaurant.

You can even own multiple ghost restaurants and operate them out of the same kitchen. Especially if your menus have ingredient overlap, you can prepare food for two separate concepts in one efficient space.

If owning or leasing a customizable space isn’t in your budget, you can work in a commissary kitchen. A commissary kitchen is a complete kitchen space that is available for rent. Although some commissaries are shared, it is usually best for ghost restaurateurs to rent private commissaries. While other commissary users, like caterers and food truck operators, need the kitchen space for prep time, you’ll need it for the same hours that you’d need a traditional restaurant kitchen. As a result, working out a schedule with other users could be challenging.

How Do I Get Customers for My Ghost Restaurant?

what are ghost restaurants

Since a ghost restaurant can’t rely on foot traffic for patrons, it is important that these businesses have savvy marketing approaches. This being said, flexibility and nearly-instant gratification are two things that make ghost restaurants the perfect foodservice business to cater to young customers. Especially if you choose to target teens and young adults as your customer base, it is best that your virtual restaurant has a strong online presence.

Partner with Food Delivery Apps

Many ghost restaurateurs opt to partner with take-out apps to attract customers. If you become a featured restaurant on one of these apps, you can gain exposure to customers who have the immediate intention of ordering. As a bonus, these apps arrange to pick up your customers’ food when it is ready, and they also deliver it to them. With these apps, all you need to worry about is preparing orders for delivery.

Create an Attractive Website That Is Easy to Use

If no food ordering apps are available in your area, or if you’d prefer to handle these processes in-house, make sure that your restaurant has a quality website that is equipped with a functional online order form.

To bring customers to your website, create social media accounts where potential patrons can discover you. Post frequently and encourage your customers to tag you if they share posts about their food. When they do, interact with them. Without this online presence, your faceless restaurant could suffer from being out of sight and out of mind.


If you want to try an experimental restaurant concept and you're unsure about investing in a storefront, opening a ghost restaurant could be the best option for you. These virtual restaurants are becoming increasingly popular in metropolitan areas, and they cater to busy, young customers who like customization and instant gratification. Overall, these delivery-only restaurants provide both owners and customers with flexibility that isn't generally found in traditional establishments.

Posted in: Advertising & Marketing | Management & Operation | By Christine Potts

How Restaurant Color Schemes Affect Your Customers

Restaurant interior color scheme

The colors that you use to decorate your foodservice establishment have a huge impact on your customers, how long they spend in your operation, and how they feel. Colors can make your customers happy, boost their appetite, increase table turnover, and make your dining space seem more spacious. But, they can also have a negative affect on your customers, so it's important to understand how your interior color choices affect your restaurant's message. To do this, you first need to understand the psychology of colors and then learn how colors go together into a pleasing and complementary color scheme.

The Psychology of Colors

Because various colors can affect your guests in different ways, they are powerful tools for shaping how your customers behave in your restaurant. It also means that you can't just choose colors for your walls and decorations arbitrarily, and you'll have to use thought when choosing your restaurant's color scheme. Here is a brief summary of how common colors affect your customers and which types of establishments might utilize them:

Color Effect Establishments That Use This Color
Red Red increases your guests' heart rates and can make them hungry. It can also make your guests eat quickly and leave, which is useful for increasing your table turnover rate. Fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants, establishments that want a high table turnover
Orange Orange makes people feel happy and cheerful. It's also excellent for establishments that serve desserts or unhealthy food because it makes people content and less likely to feel guilty for eating poorly. Fast food restaurants, ice cream shops, casual eateries
Yellow Some shades of bright yellow have a similar impact as orange, making people happy and content. Generally, yellow is very vibrant and exciting, so it's not an ideal choice for relaxed environments. Fast casual restaurants, ethnic eateries, bistros, cafes
Green Earthy tones like green are very relaxing and comforting. Green is found commonly in nature, making it an excellent choice for establishments that serve healthy and natural foods. Health food stores, salad bars, vegetarian and vegan restaurants
Brown Brown is an earthy color that helps guests relax and feel comfortable. It can also give customers a sense of support and stability, and it can even convince guests to come back as repeat customers. Coffee shops, bistros, contemporary restaurants, bars
Blue Blue is a color that most restaurants should avoid. It's not commonly found naturally in food, and it can cause your customers to lose their appetites. Additionally, if you have bright blue walls, the shade of blue can reflect onto your food and make it look less appetizing. Blue reduces customers' appetites, but it makes them thirsty. Bars, coffee shops, cafes, nightclubs, seaside restaurants
White This color gives your space a relaxed and leisurely feel. White can also make your dining area look clean, and it can make a small space seem larger. But, too much white can make your dining area look sterile. Small restaurants and bistros, upscale eateries, banquet halls, wedding venues
Black You can use black strategically to make the other colors in your restaurant pop and look more vibrant, but too much black can make your space look cramped and dark. Nightclubs, bars, contemporary restaurants

5 Color Scheme Ideas

Now that you know how colors will affect your customers, you need to understand which colors go together and how to make a pleasing color scheme. For readers that don't have much interior decorating experience, we created a list of some versatile and popular color schemes to give you an idea of what colors go together. Here are five interior color scheme ideas:

1. Light Color Scheme

Colors: Ivory, beige, white, pale yellow, light gray

A light color scheme is often used a make a smaller room look bigger than it is. Additionally, light colors evoke a leisurely and relaxing atmosphere, which makes them an excellent choice for upscale restaurants and bistros. But, due to the relaxed and comfortable nature of this color scheme, it's not ideal for restaurants that want a high turnover rate.

Light Color Scheme

2. Dark Color Scheme

Colors: Crimson, brown, purple, navy, dark green

A dark color scheme is excellent for creating intimate and romantic settings, which is perfect for some bars, trendy restaurants, and romantic bistros. But, if you use too many dark colors or very dark shades, it can make your space feel cramped and claustrophobic.

Dark Color Scheme

3. Warm Color Scheme

Colors: Yellow, terracotta, orange, red, gold

Warm colors are very exciting and bright, and they provide a lot of visual stimulation for your guests. But, because these colors are so bright, they can become irritating after a long period of time. This helps to increase your turnover rate, which makes warm color schemes ideal for high-volume establishments like fast causal eateries, buffets, or fast food restaurants. But, because warm color schemes can be overwhelming, you don't want to overdo it.

Warm Color Scheme

4. Earthy Color Scheme

Colors: Brown, olive green, beige, umber, dark orange

This color scheme is supposed to reflect colors that are found commonly in nature, and it features lots of browns and greens as well as some neutral colors. An earthy color scheme is ideal for relaxed and welcoming environments, like cafes. This color scheme has also grown in popularity recently, so you can find it in many trendy restaurants as well. Additionally, color schemes that prominently feature green and brown are excellent choices for establishments that are focused on healthy foods.

Earthy Color Scheme

5. Pastel Color Scheme

Colors: Sky blue, pink, light yellow, lavender, pale green

The pastel color scheme is very light and soft, and it is most often used in settings like bistros, cafes, and casual eateries. But, because these colors are very light, they have an almost neutral tone to them that can fit in with most types of decor. This color scheme was very popular in the 1980s, and it is becoming popular again in trendy restaurants and bistros in major cities across the U.S.

Pastel Color Scheme

Choosing a restaurant color scheme is very important because the shades you use to decorate your business can have a big effect on your customers. To choose the ideal color scheme, you should think about what kind of experience you want your customers to have in your restaurant. Additionally, for modern establishments, you may want to consider the types of decor and color schemes that are popular. But, regardless of what colors you use in your operation, you should make sure that they are true to your purpose.

Posted in: Facility Design & Decor | Management & Operation | By Richard Traylor

What Is a Monkey Dish and What Is It Used For? We Explain

Foodservice is a large industry, and there is a lot of jargon and terms that common people may not be familiar with. One such term is "monkey dish." Based on the name, you might think that monkey dishes are plates that are intended for serving monkeys, are shaped like monkeys, or feature a monkey design. The truth is much simpler, and you have almost certainly used monkey dishes before, just without knowing that was their name.

What Is a Monkey Dish?

Monkey Dish
Shop Monkey Dishes starting at $19.50

A monkey dish is a small bowl with a flat bottom that is used for serving side dishes or dipping sauces.

They come in a variety of colors and styles, and you can find them in restaurants, diners, cafeterias, and bistros all over the world. Additionally, because they are small, they are the perfect piece to use for serving sauces and condiments that accompany a main dish. They may also be used for serving appetizers and side dishes, such as assorted fruits, applesauce, and hummus.

You might be wondering, how did such a simple piece of dinnerware get such a unique name? Here is some additional information about monkey dishes and where they came from.

Where Does the Name "Monkey Dish" Come From?

Monkey dishes can be found in all sorts of establishments in the foodservice industry, but where did the name come from? There isn't a conclusive answer to where the name started, but there are many interesting stories regarding its origin. Here are three of the most popular theories:

  1. Some say that the name came from organ grinders in the mid-1800s. Organ grinders were street performers that would play music using a barrel organ. Many organ grinders had pet monkeys that would dance to the music and collect tips from people passing by. Some people theorize that these dishes are called "monkey dishes" because they resemble the bowls that the monkeys would use to collect money.
  2. Another theory states that monkey dishes were originally made from the skulls of monkeys, which gave the pieces their name.
  3. Hundreds of years ago, kings and queens would have monkeys test their food to see if it was poisoned. A piece of each food would be given to the monkey in a small bowl to taste test, hence the name.

Monkey Dish vs Ramekin

Monkey Dish
Monkey Dishes from $35.23

Monkey dishes are similar to ramekins, but there are a few key distinctions. Ramekins and monkey dishes are both small, but typically ramekins have higher walls on the side and are deeper. Monkey dishes, on the other hand, are wider and flatter. Additionally, many ramekins are used in the oven for baking, but most monkey dishes are not used for food prep.


There are many theories surrounding the origins of monkey dishes, but no one can really say for sure where they got their name. Either way, monkey dishes are useful pieces of dinnerware that are used in a variety of foodservice settings, so it’s useful for chefs to learn about them.

Posted in: Product Spotlights | By Richard Traylor
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