Updated: Nov 7, 2019
Whenever most of us show up at a restaurant, it’s because we are hungry. I know I state the obvious, but, it’s a universal need for human beings to satisfy hunger, several times a day, even. It’s a need that we all have, and one that is very easy to satisfy, since restaurants and food businesses are so numerous.
Since there are so many restaurants, it’s becoming more and more important for them to offer creative and unique ways to quench people’s hunger. Since there is so much competition, and since it’s so easy for consumers to just go some place else if they have a bad experience or if another place is offering something they think is more interesting, restaurants have to stay on their toes.
There are a lot of ways to do this, and at several places along the customer journey, but the one I want to talk about here is once they are already in the door and seated at your table.
One of my favorite reasons that I go to eat Mexican food is the chips and salsa that they bring at the beginning of the meal. Even before the waiter, and sometimes even before the glass of water, shows up. When someone brings you food that you haven’t even asked for, it’s almost like you are in a friends home, or at a family gathering, instead of a pubic restaurant. It’s welcoming and it’s disarming and it creates an instant feeling of appreciation in the customer.
In this momentary dynamic restaurants have a golden opportunity to create a regular, loyal patron. You have an opportunity to move someone out of their routine way of thinking about dining out, and create a memorable moment for them. One that will make their time in your restaurant stand out. Take this opportunity to do something unique and different.
Here are just a few that might inspire your brain to get creative.
Offer a Sampling of the Nightly Special
Is your chef making something that night that is considered a special menu item? And, if it’s cost effective enough, how about offering small, bite sized portions to people as they sit down. Explain to them why it actually is ‘special’, make it look amazing, and serve it to people even before you take their order.
Offer a Sampling of the New Menu Item
Same theory as above, and this one could be used for more than one evening if you are rolling out a new menu or just one menu item.
Offer a Sampling of the House Special
Again, same theory as the two above, and this one is also a great way to share with customers a reason that your restaurant is special.
Collaborate with Vendors
Talk to your food vendors and see if they would be willing to bring you something a little unique or different that you can whip up small samplings of and share with customers, and drop their name as you are describing the dish. This is especially interesting if the vendors are local farmers, organic, or in some way trying to grow their food in a more mindful way. There are a lot of people who are becoming increasingly interested in eating healthy and knowing where their food comes from.
Collaborate with Other Restaurants or Food Shops, Even
That’s right. Start a dialog with the bakery up the street or the coffee shop or cheese shop next door. See if there is a way to collaborate with them that is mutually beneficial. Maybe offer a sampling of the coffee shops newest or house flavored coffee, or a taste of the newest brie from the cheese shop, at the beginning of the meal and explain to customers where it came from. And, see if they’d be willing to do the same with one of your menu items in their shop.
Get the Bar Involved
If you have a full bar, and even more interesting, if you offer crafted drinks, make small portions of a special seasonal drink, or smoothie, or even open a bottle of wine that you would like to showcase, and offer that to customers. This might also be a way to get the bartender involved in a more direct way, especially if they have a drink recipe that they are working on or that they created.
There are so many ways to get creative with your restaurants offerings and how those are passed on to your customers. Think outside the box and see what you can come up with for yours!