Well, winter was fun.
Sure, the days were short and the weather was less than optimal, but the cold weather kept your restaurant packed all winter long, right? Well, hopefully. But even if it didn’t, the beginning of spring is the perfect opportunity to refresh and re-introduce your restaurant to new and existing customers.
And while changing up your menu and running Mother’s Day promotions are obvious ideas for the months of March through May, there are a lot of other things you can do to drive people through your restaurant’s doors during spring. Here are nine tips for promoting your restaurant during spring, and how you can execute them best.
The winter holidays lend themselves to large family gatherings which, aside from Mother’s Day, are pretty much absent in the spring. Assuming people actually want to eat dinner with their closest loved ones, promote a Sunday Family-style menu to run throughout spring, so people can keep the feeling of togetherness going.
Any bar or restaurant with 10 TVs and a satellite subscription will be running specials for the NCAA basketball tournament in March. But to get people in, offer incentives to customers who come in beforehand. Give a free draft beer to anyone who presents a check and shows up for the games. Then offer those folks who come in for the first weekend a sizable discount if they return with friends for the next round of the tournament.
If weather patterns don’t go berserk, this season is one that’ll bring some much needed color and sunlight after a dark, drab winter. Make your restaurant a place people go to get the most out of spring by topping your tables with colorful flowers, and ensuring natural light gets in to as much of your dining room as possible.
If you’ve got an outdoor dining space, don’t just open it up. Make its opening an event. In your restaurant and on social media channels, begin a countdown to when your patio will open (local weather forecasts can help with that) and have a special event to commemorate it. Then, as spring goes on, entice people to eat outside with entertainment, special patio-only menu items, and a bring-your-pet-to-the-patio day.
Changing up your menu for spring with stuff like salads and smoothies isn’t exactly groundbreaking advice. But did you consider changing up your beer menu as well? Most local breweries have special, lighter beers for spring, so ask your distributor what’s new for the season. You can even run promotional beer pairing dinners to show off your new spring menu alongside your new brews.
Every food imaginable has its own holiday now, so chances are 99% of your customers will have no idea May is National Nutrition Month. Until you tell them, of course, and offer a whole menu of heart-healthy options. You can even partner with a local gym and offer rewards for customers who eat light at your place, and workout heavy at theirs.
We’re not saying bring your guests horribly overpriced checks and if they question it just point and yell “April Fools!” But you can have some fun with it by promoting outlandish offerings on your social media channels like “bacon-infused water” or “turkey tataki” to get people through the door. Or print up an entire fake menu for diners to look at as soon as they walk in. If your restaurant’s culture allows for that kind of fun, it’ll endear you to your regular customers and might even get you some publicity.
Of course, with all that natural light shining on your winter-worn interior, your restaurant is probably going to need a deep cleaning first. Take special care to scrub (or, let’s be honest, have someone else scrub) areas near doors and windows that get extra light. Now is also a good time to take out stoves and fryers to clean behind them, get your floors power washed, and take a good, long look at your seats. Spring Cleaning is a time-honored tradition, and one you shouldn’t ignore.
Once we get into May and June, the onslaught of graduations, Mother’s Day parties, weddings, and pre-summer bridal showers get underway. Start promoting yourself as a destination for all of those now, and offer advance booking discounts. With any luck, you’ll have every holiday sold out, and still have seats filled every other weekend.
Spring is the time to shake off the winter cold and try a fresh new approach to promoting your restaurant. Try a few of these ideas and you may be surprised by the positive response you get from your restaurant’s clientele.