With so many culinary options and different dining styles available to customers these days, competition in the restaurant industry is fiercer than ever. To build a thriving, successful, and long-term business in food service, restauranteurs have to start getting creative to make their restaurants stand out from the competition. Whether you’re opening a new spot for foodies or have been running a restaurant for years, here are some ways to make your restaurant stand out.
BOOST YOUR CURB APPEAL
Most restauranteurs have already adopted the essential mantra: Location. Location. Location. While having an optimal street address is important to the success of your business, it’s time to extend that idea one step further to truly help you stand out.
While location is a crucial first step, standing out from all the other businesses on your street means boosting your curb appeal. What do we mean by that? Curb appeal to real estate marketing what presentation and plating is to a top-tier chef. Extend the interior style, mood, and ambience of your restaurant to its external façade. An unconventional paint colour, creative window décor, or bold signage can all make a customer stop and take a second look when they might otherwise have passed you by.
PARTICIPATE IN POP-UP OPPORTUNITIES
Consider opening a booth at a local music, food, or craft festival. These types of events offer the infrastructure and built-in crowds you need to introduce your food and your business to a whole new demographic of customers. Not only do pop-ups provide additional exposure, they also give you the opportunity to test new food items and menu ideas. Because these events are traditionally not known for culinary excellence, your pop-up is sure to stand out and make diners think seriously about visiting your restaurant.
INVITE GUEST CHEFS
Inviting guest chefs to take over your kitchen for the evening is a great way to get customers interested by offering them a unique experience. This tactic works particularly well if you can nab a guest chef who has a strong reputation or is visiting from out of town.
You can also make your restaurant stand out even more with this idea by gathering a few guest chefs together to participate in a competition with your customers as the judging panel. Both regular diners and new customers will love the chance to try a special dish that is only available for a limited time, and turning the evening into an event with some friendly competition is a unique way of getting everyone excited.
OFFER UNIQUE PROMOTIONS
By now, restaurant customers are used to seeing special menus rolled out for occasions like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. Not only are these special menus commonplace, many customers also feel that they are overpriced, prompting them to skip dining out on these occasions altogether. Instead of falling in step with every other restaurant on the block, offer a special menu on an unusual day and price it so that it’s attractive to budget-conscious customers. For example, offer a three-course prix fixe on a Monday evening to entice customers to come out on a typically slow day of the week. Tempt them even further with unique menu items that can’t be found at any other time and you’ll soon see your dining room fill up.
BE A TREND-SETTER
Make your restaurant stand-out by not just giving your customers what they want, but by telling them what’s new, exciting, delicious, and otherwise unavailable. In order to be a trend-setter, you have to know your target customer very well and figure out what’s popular in their zeitgeist. For example, downtown restaurants that have been very successful in recent years have understood and anticipated the broader ethos of what urban millennials and Gen Xers are into. Restaurants that offer minimalist décor and a farm to table philosophy have taken off in the last decade because chefs and owners understood that sustainability and the local food movement are important to the current generation of diners.
GET INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY
Participating in local community events is a great way to get to know your target customer, and to introduce yourself and your business to your neighbours. Get involved with a local charity food drive or, even better, start one of your own! If you really want to get people’s attention, follow the example of France. In 2016, France became the world’s first country to ban food waste and mandate that supermarkets donate unsold food to those in need. By implementing a similar policy in which your restaurant converts its food waste into charity you’ll quickly make a name for yourself and your business, and may even attract some media headlines. Whether you choose to go big or small-scale, giving back to your community sets you apart from your competition by establishing your business as one that cares about people as much as profit.
As you can see, there are a multitude of strategies you can adopt as ways to make your restaurant stand out and rise above the rest. Whether you take it in small steps by starting with a fresh coat of bold paint, or jump right in and establish a food donation program, making a few changes to your business model will fill up your reservation book faster than ever before.