Dining Events: Bringing in New Customers to Your Restaurant

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Is your restaurant looking for something fun to bring in new customers? Do you need to create a little buzz for your dining establishment? Here are some ideas to consider that will help your restaurant stand out and develop a following.

Dining Events

Photo by: Sonny Abesamis

Photo by: Sonny Abesamis

On Monday, a semi-annual event will kick off in downtown Indianapolis. This two-week event, called Devour Downtown, gives diners a chance to take advantage of dinner and lunch specials from restaurants around the downtown area. Participating restaurants offer a three-course meal, priced between $20-40 per person (some restuarants will offer a meal for two for $20-$35). This has been a wildly successful promotion, and the idea has spawned similar events in other areas of the city.

The benefit of offering a special menu is that it allows you to offer a sampling of your best items to potential new customers, with the hope that they’ll not only come back, but spread the word among friends.┬áTypically, your menu should include an appetizer, entree and dessert. Offering a vegetarian/vegan or gluten-free option will open your place up to more potential diners. Of course, depending on what kind of restaurant you have, your options may vary (for example, if you specialize in tapas/small plates, you may offer more courses).

Now, there may or may not be an event like Devour Downtown where your restaurant is located. If there is, great! Check with the organizers to see how your restaurant can get involved. If there isn’t an event, don’t let that stop you! If your restaurant has a website or a social media presence, you can always promote and spread the word that way. Make it your own event!

Pairing Dinners and Tasting Menuswine pairing

Another idea to bring buzz (and business) into your restaurant is to offer a pairing dinner. Team up with a local winery or brewery and offer a private dinner where each course is paired with a beer, wine or other potent potable. Teaming with a winery/brewery allows you to draw upon their customer base as well as your own, bringing potential new customers to both sides. Meanwhile, attendees of these dinners learn a thing or two about complimenting their food with the right type of spirit.

Tasting menus have become quite popular as well. They consist of several courses of small portions to create a single meal. You can choose to do wine or beer pairings with these as well. This is an opportunity to show off your creativity with your presentation and your ingredients. Other options include bringing in a guest chef to conduct the tasting menu.

Be CreativeTasting Menu

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, either! There are a ton of different ideas you can try to bring in new business. Offer a house specialty only on a specific day or weekend (Grandma’s famous fried chicken! Catfish Friday!). Come up with an eating challenge where winners get a prize (gift certificate, t-shirt, picture on a wall, etc.) if they complete it. Schedule a fun theme night with a themed menu. The options are almost endless!

Have an idea that worked for you? Share with us in the comments section. And as always, shop Central for all of your restaurant needs.

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