Tag Archives: restaurant marketing

Brainstorming Ways to Bring in Families

Adults and kids share a meal at a local diner.

Parents spend where their kids will eat.

Recent research from the NPD Group reports that families with children younger than 13 seriously cut back their dining out habits when the economy crashed in 2008. Full-service restaurants were the segment that took the biggest hit, and supper was the meal that took the greatest loss.

These families, like most of us, started pinching pennies when finances got shaky, but now that the economy is in recovery, and spending is on its way back up, a quarter of those same families are still holding back. How can FSRs reclaim this valuable demographic?

Children are big decision-makers when it comes to dining. Figure out how to match what they are looking for (Fun? Avoidance of broccoli? More cheesy pizza?) with what the parents are looking for (Value! Nutrition!) and you have a recipe that will keep them coming back for more!

  • Turn slow weeknights into Mother-Son/Daddy-Daughter date nights and offer one free kids’ meal with the purchase of an adult meal.
  • Turn Saturday or Sunday evenings into an opportunity for Mom & Dad to celebrate their kids by offering a free double-sized dessert with the purchase of an adult meal and a kids’ meal.
  • Turn Friday nights into date night for grownups and offer free dessert to share while the kids are with a babysitter. Make sure you remind them about your great kids’ menu so they will come back with the kids on a weeknight!
  • Create a tween menu (11 to 13 year olds) with food that’s cooler than the kiddie menu, but in portions that are a bit smaller than the adult menu.

Keep brainstorming with food ideas, service concepts, special offers, or entertainment ideas and spend the summer experimenting with ways to bring families out to dine with you!

Don’t Eat This for a Week

Half-gallon bottles of Little Soya Soy Sauce

Little Soya Soy Sauce is gluten free and gets rave reviews from chefs everywhere.

Starting on Monday, avoid beer, bread, cake, candy, cereal, cookies, crackers, croutons, French fries, gravy, imitation meat, imitation seafood, matzo, oats, pasta, pies, processed luncheon meats, salad dressing, sauces, seasoned rice mixes, seasoned snack foods (potato chips, et al), self-basting poultry, soups and soup bases, and vegetables in sauce.

And don’t forget to stay away from anything else with made with barley (including malt), bulgur, durum flour, farina, graham flour, kamut, rye, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat, wheat flour, or wheat gluten. Could you go cold turkey (no pun intended)?

The challenge has been set by the Celiac Disease Foundation as a fund raiser for National Celiac Disease Awareness Month, but it’s an interesting challenge for anyone who wants to see if they can do it.

Celiac disease is the primary medical reason a person goes wheat gluten free. The disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes a gamut of symptoms from iron deficient anemia, itchy skin and fatigue to abdominal bloating, pain, vomiting and other digestive un-pleasantries, plus dozens of other symptoms. Different patients can have different symptoms, or no symptoms at all, but the result of Celiac is the same:  damaged villi in the small intestine which results in poor nutrient absorption and possibly the development of other medical issues and auto immune disorders. It’s all caused by an immune system trigger against wheat. When a patient’s body goes into overdrive fighting off wheat, it fails to process and absorb nutrients from food (and causes all the symptoms above).

The foods listed on the avoidance list often contain some form of wheat gluten as a result of processing cross-contamination or use as an ingredient in everything from caramel coloring to lunch meats; that makes it very difficult to grocery shop and dine like most  Americans are used to. Food service businesses that understand the reasoning behind guest requests for gluten-free options immediately turn Celiac sufferers and their families into loyal customers for life.

Thanks to big growth in gluten-free food production, restaurants can now lean on quality ready-to-service products for their gluten-free guests. Celiac sufferers are grateful for gluten-free sandwich breads that taste good enough to eat, and for common ingredients like gluten free soy sauce, which makes Chinese foods (a very gluten-heavy diet because of sauces) friendly to both gluten avoiders and gluten eaters.

public relations for restaurant owners

Public Relations Tips For Restaurant Owners

Whether you run a fine dining establishment or a fast food restaurant, your business must present itself positively to your customers. Excellent food, good prices and decent customer service alone may not be enough to help you compete in a tight market with so many other food service choices available these days. Your restaurant can excel in public relations as a way to advance your business.


Public relations is different from advertising, but both do the same thing: promote your business. There is some overlap, but pubic relations seeks to present information about the company to the general public to cast the business in a positive light.

Promotional Efforts

Your restaurant’s public relations campaign can take a number of approaches. One way to reach customers and to have them come back is to create a loyalty program. For instance, you can develop a card that is stamped after each meal has been purchased. After the sixth meal you might offer one meal free or provide free desserts.

You can avoid the loyalty card by simply giving customers a discount on their next visit. Or you might ask your customers to sign an email registration sheet to receive follow up offers online. You’ll assemble a valuable mailing list that way too.


Public relations also means offering something to the community with nothing expected in return. Or at least with no clearly defined expectancy of certain returns.

Your restaurant might partner with a nonprofit by providing food to support a special event. You might also sponsor a local little league or softball league team, with your company’s name displayed on the front or back of the players’ jerseys. Consider offering a college scholarship in your company’s name or sponsoring summer camp for children with disabilities.

Restaurants can also reach out to new members of the community by teaming up with other businesses to send out welcome packs. Provide coupons to reach new residents and get included in special mailings from the cable company or a phone provider.

Make a Story

Your restaurant’s public relations efforts can be extended by working with your media contacts to get your news out. The story you present should be unique, not self-serving and it should be interesting.

For instance, if you provide food for a nonprofit’s special event, that event could be held at your restaurant. Work with media to announce the event and invite reporters and photographers to stop by and share the news. Contact television and radio personalities, and don’t forget the influence that some bloggers can have on broadcasting an event while mentioning your restaurant’s involvement.

Social Media

Besides your restaurant’s website, you can engage socially with people online.  Facebook and Twitter are two social networking websites that are best used by small businesses.

Establish a Facebook page and provide information about your business. Instead of overtly promoting your restaurant, you might want to share tips with your customers. For instance, your chef might share the recipe for a beloved dessert. Or, your wine waiter might share pairing tips. Encourage your visitors to share your page and your updates.

On Twitter, your restaurant can list daily specials. Like Facebook, you can include photographs of some of your finest entrees. Get included in lists where foodies gather and promote each other.

Public Relations Ethics

When undertaking any public relations campaign, your restaurant must be diligent to follow prescribed ethics. This means providing only accurate information, pointing out and correcting false information, offering attribution when necessary, refraining from compensating media, and posting your ethics policy to your company’s website. If you hire a public relations firm to manage your affairs, make note of that relationship too.