marketingRestaurant Experience

Bringing In Restaurant Customers as Summer Heats Up with the Right Ambiance, Menu, and Marketing

Ahh. It’s finally arrived, and Memorial Day marks the spot—summer is, though not officially, here. So, what does that mean for your restaurant, your customer’s restaurant experience and how can you optimize the season of fun and entertainment? 

According to one survey, 48% of those who responded said they eat out more in the summer. Great news! Now, how do we capitalize on this swell of eating out? First, you’ll need to create a space that appeals to the summer crowd, including atmosphere and menu options, and then let them know what you’ve made. 

The Space

What feeling does summer evoke? For many, it’s a time of vacations, weekends in the backyard by the pool and at the grill—warmth and relaxation. For others, it’s figuring out how to keep the kids entertained to minimize sibling squabbles. 

How do you appeal to these people and direct them from their outdoor spaces to your restaurant? One tried-and-true method is creating a space where they can relax with their kids and enjoy the many wonders summer brings.

Take a detached look at your outdoor seating. Does it look inviting and relaxing or cramped and slightly unkempt? Now’s the time to make it shine. Consider cooling misters, fans, and shade if you’re in a hot environment. The right plants and lighting can take a fly-by spot and turn it into a “let’s try this place” venue. 

If you’re in the right location and local ordinances allow, don’t forget your guests’ furry friends. Offering pets-allowed patio hours can entice customers that enjoy sharing a meal with their four-legged pals. A few pet-appealing strategies include increasing shade options, offering water bowls, and providing a healthy treat. You can also limit pet options to a specific day or time of the week or host a patio dog party once a month. 

Remember, entertainment venues and experiential dining is taking the world by storm.  

The Food

Make sure that some of your menu items reflect the season. This may include popular summer drinks like Blackberry Mojitos, Palomas, and Frozen Sangria Margaritas. In the summer, people tend to eat lighter and enjoy smaller plates. Think of fresh herbs, summer fruits, and locally-sourced greens. It’s the perfect time for some grilled shrimp with mango and lime; muscles infused with garlic, thyme, and white wine; or specials from the grill.

And, of course, don’t forget the kids. If your restaurant’s ambiance allows, a child-friendly space can significantly increase traffic. Consider a kids’ menu designed for those 12 and under.

Getting the Word Out

When I’m out and about in the world and in an unfamiliar location, I turn to Google and search for restaurants near me. Then, I look at their reviews. And I am not alone. Take a look at “restaurants near me” and see where your restaurant appears. You can increase your search by claiming your Google+ page and map listing and using Google paid search. 

As we all know, social media marketing can get expensive if implemented without careful forethought. However, utilizing unified geofencing marketing targets customers in a specific region and can substantially increase a restaurant’s foot traffic. 

Of course, many restauranteurs and marketers use social media without breaking the bank. In fact, creating a social media following is one of the best forms of building relationships with your customers and turning one-time visitors into lifelong fans. Summer is a perfect time to share pictures of your seasonal cocktails and fare, as well as the outdoor retreat you’ve created for them. 


How do I promote my restaurant on social media? 

The five best social media platforms for restaurants are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. If you’re uncertain where to start, there is an overabundance of information on the internet. If one more “to do” leaves you feeling a little nauseous, consider turning to one of your trusted staff members. I can almost guarantee that a social media savant dwells in one of your employees. 

 What’s a good summer menu?

Think fresh, light, and vibrant when adding items to your summer menu. It’s the time of year to take advantage of all of the food ripening on the vine and in the fields. Customers may also like to try more of your delectable fair by ordering several small plates instead of one large meal. A few possibilities include garlic butter steak bites, chicken lettuce wraps, Portuguese mussels, and a unique spin on Greek or Mediterranean fresh vegetable or pasta salads. 

How does geofencing marketing work?

Geofencing involves sending out targeted advertising to people within a certain proximity of your restaurant via push notifications. It’s a marketing tool known to increase foot traffic and sales. You can even target locations, such as competitor restaurants, office buildings, and event spaces. 

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