The colder months are brutal to restaurants operating amidst a pandemic. You can imagine convincing people to leave their homes under these circumstances is nothing but a mission, to say the least. But now that restaurants are open to seating customers again, figured now might be as good as any to share this.
The bottom line is that the restaurant industry is notorious for being risky and very expensive. Losing customers at a time like this is no longer an option because let’s be honest, those operating costs are too high for you to sit back and relax. We need to give your potential customers good reasons to want to leave their homes and, into your restaurant.
I’ve got five. Let’s start.
Add winter meal items to the menu
The keyword here is add. Do yourself and your wallet a favor and skip the menu reengineering phase, winter is not permanent – unless your menu needs a little sprucing up, then, by all means, reach out.
Hearty soups with hot homemade breads, warm casseroles, stews, and ooey-gooey malva puddings are one way to get customers through the door but, the spiked hot cocoas will certainly keep them longer. Incorporate slower cooking methods onto your menu like braising and roasting tougher and chunkier cuts of meat over a long period of time, allowing the tough cell structures to break down, leaving you with a deliciously tender, melt-in-the-mouth moment.
Notice how I named some of the dishes? Naming dishes appropriately that are associated with winter helps your customers feel comfort – dare, I say warm and fuzzy. Don’t forget about your vegans and vegetarians either. Keep them cozy with mother watering filling dishes that are suitable for those chilly months.
Make your restaurant warm and cozy
Going to a new restaurant is like going on Tinder – looks are everything. And the ambiance is the charming personality that lands you the first date. Making your restaurant all warm and fuzzy is an easy way to get customers in during this chilly weather. A warm and cozy restaurant builds to the ambiance much like your tinder date having hobbies and interests. A great dining experience is one way to stand out from the forgettable ones.
- Replace metal furniture with tables and chairs that are made from materials that feel warmer to the touch, like wood that are also suitable for all the other seasons.
- Got steel chairs? Add cushions for extra warmth but also a cheaper alternative if replacing an entire set of furniture is not in the cards, just yet.
- Outdoor portable heaters – electric/gas are another great way to heat up your restaurant if you have an outdoor seated area.
- Rent out small blankets for a deposit to your customers while they dine. If they forgot to bring it back which they most likely will, that deposit has you covered.
- Get warmer lighting fixtures to compliment the mood of the restaurant or get candles.
- Have a great playlist that blends with the restaurant’s personality if not to set the mood.
Promote comfort and coziness on your socials
Now that your restaurant is all warm and cozy, it’s time to let your customers know. Use your restaurant to create beautiful aesthetics that promote comfort, warmth, and hearty meals, heck the whole menu. The idea here is to create massive FOMO with relevant and engaging posts that will make people come to you.
But creating really good content can be daunting, stressful, heck even expensive. If you’re like me and don’t know where to start, the basics of content creation is where it’s at, and this was a great start for me. But if this is not for you, don’t force it. Hire a social media manager that can make your Instagram feed bring the people to you.
Make your restaurant covid friendly
Most parents baby-proof their homes to protect their kids as they navigate in a new world. Your restaurant is the baby that needs protecting from the virus as we navigate the new normal. Restaurants must adapt to newer, more efficient, and safer design options to accommodate the new restrictions and guest experience.
Ways to “covid – proof” your restaurant:
- If your restaurant has the space, take the opportunity to create physical distancing by spacing out the furniture aka social distancing.
- Plexiglass dividers between the guests can be another option especially becauses cases tend to spike in colder months.
- Have visible sanitizing stations throughout your restaurant.
- Ensure that your staff regularly sanitizes high risk areas within the restaurant such as door handles, POS systems, counters, menus etc.
- A little out there but restaurants in some parts of the world have adopted igloos or dome like structures designed to keep the winter breeze and covid out. As this is a rather new practice, researchers are concerned about several factors, but it is certainly a solution worth looking into.
Remember the bit about social media? Some of your content can highlight your efforts towards keeping the customers and staff safe while they dine out. Don’t just claim to take covid regulations seriously for the sake of saying it, show them – after all, actions do speak louder than words. Sell safety and sell it well.
Warm up your plates
Hot food must be served hot, and cold food must be served cold. Period.
Would you pay to eat cold soup? Because that’s exactly what your customers get when you serve them hot soup in a cold bowl. How about a warm wilted salad? No? Refer back to the rule. Plates maintain heat and it is the easiest way to ensure that the customer enjoys a hot dinner by the time the plate reaches their table.
Pop your oven-safe plates in the oven for five minutes on the lowest setting, just don’t forget them. We want the food kept warm not continue the cooking process. For your non-oven safe plates, running them under very hot water or popping them in the microwave will do the trick, or invest in a plate warmer. Different methods, same results. The right temperature of the plate also maintains the structure of the food when it reaches the customer.
Take advantage of the need for humans to go out and interact with each other and make some coins off of it.
Until next time.