The 10 Best Cities to Open a Restaurant in 2020

The restaurant business is highly competitive and often unforgiving to newcomers. There are many factors that will contribute to a restaurant’s success (or failure) including food quality, service quality, marketing, and competition. Restaurant success and new business success overall is almost impossible to predict.

However, there are several cities in the US where restaurant start-ups are more likely to succeed simply due to the environmental factors in that location.

Restaurant Environmental Success Factors

There are several environmental factors that may impact the success (or failure) of a restaurant that is entirely based on the location of that business. It is difficult to say which of these factors is most important, as all should be considered before deciding. No one location is going to be perfect in every category, so it is up to you to determine which factors are most important for your business. It is also crucial to be aware of which factors may be competing against your success in any given location.

Factors that contribute to how ideal a location for a new restaurant may be include:

  • Number of restaurants already located in the city
    • Obviously, the amount of competition in a given area will affect the success of your restaurant. Another factor that is more difficult to compare numerically but should be considered before a final location is chosen is how many direct competitors are in the area. For example, if you want to open a new Thai restaurant, how many other Thai restaurants are already in the city?
  • Annual restaurant sales per capita
    • This is one of the leading indicators of a city’s health for new restaurants, but it can be a bit trickier to calculate. While it is often readily available for some of the larger restaurant-dense cities, it may not be for a city you are considering.
  • The ratio of restaurants to households with an annual income of at least $100,000
    • An annual income of at least $100,000 for a household tends to indicate a good amount of disposable income that can be used for luxuries like going out to eat. This means you want to look for locations where the median income per individual is close to $50,000 or more.
  • Number of individuals aged 35 to 54
    • Unless your restaurant idea appeals to a different demographic (i.e. is a children’s party restaurant), then this is your target market. Obviously having a population that is made up of more of these individuals will be positive for your restaurant.
  • Number of restaurants workers per capita
    • Another factor that contributes to a restaurant’s success is the availability of labor in the area. Cities, where there are few restaurant workers, may make it harder for you to staff your business, and labor will likely cost you more. Additionally, restaurants that open in markets without much available labor tend to see a decline in service quality. This can lead to a major problem for restaurants because it can reduce the number of returning customers, which is critical to a restaurant’s success.
  • Rate of population growth (or decline)
    • High-growth cities need more of everything, including restaurants. Population growth is one of the leading indicators of success for new ventures, including restaurants.
  • Rate of job growth
    • Except for the number of restaurant workers available in an area, it can be difficult to see how the rate of job growth will impact your business. However, you want to make sure you are opening your business in a financially healthy community. The rate of job growth is one indicator of community financial health.
  • The overall cost of living
    • Similar to the rate of job growth, the overall cost of living is an indicator of how healthy your target community is. It can also be an indicator of how expensive rent or utilities might be in your location.
  • The five-year survival rate of new ventures
    • While the success or failure of other businesses in an area does not automatically mean your business will have the same fate, it can be an indicator of how many resources are available to new business owners in an area.

The 10 Best Cities for Opening a Restaurant

#1 – Cedar Park, Texas

Cedar Park is one of the major suburbs of Austin. The Austin area of Texas is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. In fact, Austin is the fourth largest city by population and the nation’s second-largest restaurant market.

Despite Austin being saturated, Cedar Park can afford additional businesses. Over the past three years, Cedar Park has consistently seen a population increase of more than 20%. Because of the population growth in the area, demand for new dining options remains strong.

Additionally, the median income for Cedar Park is just shy of $80,000, indicating a healthy number of households with annual incomes of at least $100,000 annually.

Texas generally has always ranked high for business “friendliness” due to low costs, large labor supply, significant job growth, the economic climate, and the educational quality. These factors combined with the population growth indicate that Cedar Park is a strong location for new restaurant ventures and should be a contender for any restauranteur.

#2 – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis has a strong economy and a highly educated workforce. While not the highest median income on this list at just under $61,000 annually, this median does indicate a good amount of expendable income within the community. The median annual income, median annual housing costs, and unemployment rates in Minneapolis all point to a strong financial community, which is ideal when opening a new restaurant.

The annual growth rate for Minneapolis is on the low side, at just around .04% annually. However, because of the already-strong economy, this likely would not have a major impact on a new restaurant in the community.

#3 – Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville also has considerably better utility rates than other Midwestern states and is 26 percent lower than the national average. Even if your restaurant will not pay your own utility bills, these savings should translate directly into your rental costs. This also contributes to the lower cost of living in Louisville, which means residents have more expendable income despite the lower median of approximately $45,000.

Louisville’s annual growth is around 4%, which is fairly strong for an already-established city. Louisville also has growing music and food scenes, which create a significant amount of tourism revenue.

#4 – Riverside, California

Riverside is one of the fastest-growing counties in the country, and certainly the fastest in California. So if your heart is set on opening your doors to the California sunshine, Riverside is likely your best bet.

The largest demographic in Riverside is in the 25 to 44 age bracket, which makes up more than 27% of the entire population. This is a strong indicator that there are plenty of individuals within the targeted 35 to 44 demographic.

The cost of living in California is one of the highest in the country, but the median household income is a bit above the average in the US at $56,000. This indicates that residents do have a decent amount of disposable income for dining out.

#5 – Kansas City, Missouri

In Kansas City, there are about 20 restaurants and bars per 10,000 residents. To compare, San Francisco has nearly 40 restaurants and bars per person and New York City comes in at 25 per person.

Another interesting fact for restauranteurs considering Kansas City is that restaurants in the area tend to divide evenly between full service and fast food. So there is an equal opportunity no matter which type of restaurant you are more interested in opening.

Kansas City has a median household income of approximately $64,000, which puts it shy of the $100,000 marker. However, the cost of living in Kansas City is significantly lower than other locations in the United States, so the lower median income is not as big of a detractor as it could be in another location.

#6 – Boston, Massachusetts

The restaurant sales per capita are $3,404 in Boston, Massachusetts. The restaurant workforce is more than 5,100 and the median individual income is a little more than $107,000 per year. These are all positive indicators for a restauranteur who is considering Boston, especially the individual median income.

However, it is also important to note that Boston, MA is one of the more restaurant-dense cities on this list. Boston has close to 25 restaurants per capita, which means there is a significant amount of competition in the area.

#7 – Arlington, Virginia

Arlington may not be the hottest location on anyone’s list. However, with approximately 380 restaurants per capita and 7,700 workers, Arlington’s success location success factors are among the best.

The median income is slightly more than $108,000, meaning more than half of the households in Arlington make more than $100,000 annually. This indicates a significant amount of disposable income – which is a huge indicator of a restaurant’s success.

#8 – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Restaurant sales per capita in Ann Arbor were $2,877. The restaurant workforce is approximately 5,800 and the medium income per individual falls just shy of $58,000. While these numbers fall a bit short when compared to other cities on this list, Ann Arbor does rank well in other factors.

Ann Arbor’s population is growing by 8.2% annually. While not as significant as the growth in Cedar Park, Texas, it is still one of the fastest-growing communities in the United States. This growth is a huge success indicator for new restaurants in any given location.

#9 – Fishers, Indiana

Nearly 35% of the residents of Fishers are 35 to 54 years old, which is the prime target market for restaurants. Fishers is an affordable community, has strong schools, and residents have easy access to nearby Indianapolis. These factors have helped the city draw in young professionals, families, and businesses that cater to them specifically. Restaurants in Fishers earned more than $100 million in annual sales for 2018.

Fishers are only seeing about a 2% growth per year, likely due to the slightly higher median age of its residents. However, median household income is growing steadily, so although grow isn’t as high, the potential for increased sales remains strong in this community.

#10 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee is one of the highest-ranked cities for starting a new restaurant by multiple sources. There is a strong private-sector financial community, and there is an established network of venture capitalists, angel investors, and economic development agencies. Wisconsin itself offers many tax incentives for businesses, and many agencies to help assist small businesses with their ventures at the state and city level.

However, Milwaukee’s population growth rate is on the lower end at a mere 1.3%. The median income for Milwaukee is only about $35,500 per year. So while the government assistance for small businesses makes it a great community, the population demographics may make it difficult to be successful.

Conclusion

It may be surprising that the cities that are traditionally known for having the best restaurants in the United States (and in some cases, the world) are absent from this list. Many of those markets are already filled to capacity. Additionally, a majority of restaurants operate in small cities and thrive there.

Depending on the concept you envision opening, your restaurant’s location will play a role. But the most important factor is the food you serve. If you can afford a good location and serve great food, that is ideal – but it is not critical to success.

Besides the food, marketing is probably one of the second-highest factors for a restaurant’s success, even before the location. No matter where you decide to locate your new restaurant, you might consider hiring a restaurant consultant to help you with your marketing efforts. Restaurant consultants can help business owners from logos all the way to menu creation and interior design.

Restaurant Round-Up: Eat Local in 417-Land

There are hundreds of restaurants in the Springfield-area, and competition is fierce. Our team at Longitude° knows all-too-well the struggles that restaurant owners face to stay in business and thrive – especially locally-owned restaurants.

As a restaurant branding and marketing agency, we do our best to maintain a pulse of the restaurant industry. This means that we make any and all excuses to try great food at great restaurants any chance we get. Plus, we love supporting local eateries as often as we can.

Sadly a large majority of people still opt to support large chain restaurants instead of local businesses. So, in an effort to help promote these incredible local eateries, we’ve put together a list of better local alternatives to the national chains.

Tater Tots

Next time you’re tempted to stop in and grab some tots from Sonic, think twice. Did you know that the recently opened Lucky Tiger not only has delicious sandwiches, but they’re always serving up the most mouth-watering tater tots this side of the Mississippi? Give this quirky and fun sandwich shop a try, and be sure to ask for the Kimchi Tots!

Lucky Tiger Sandwich Co. | Best Tots (and sandwiches)

Tacos

Why eat a bland, soggy taco from Taco Bell when you can stop into Team Taco just off of Cherry and Pickwick Street in the historic Rountree neighborhood. The taste of these tacos is second to none, and their ingredients are high-quality, unique, and the atmosphere is so fun and light. Definitely check them out. We recommend ordering the “B.A. Baracus” or the “Globetrotter.” Yo quiero Team Taco?

Team Taco | Best Tacos

Chicken Wings

Who doesn’t like some good wings every now and then? Buffalo Wild Wings may be a good place to watch a game and get cheap wings, but if you’re really looking for delicious and quality wings, look no further than Grad School. This small local restaurant serves up some of the best wings in the area. Try out the “House Hot Toddies”… your taste buds will thank you later.

Grad School | Best Chicken Wings

Gyros

We were shocked to find out that Arby’s served a “gyro,” but equally shocked to learn that people actually ate this when Greek Belly exists! This little restaurant located on Walnut St. in downtown Springfield has the perfect atmosphere to make you feel like you walked right into an authentic Greek restaurant in the heart of Greece. Try the Gyro Pita Wrap with Tzatziki – it’s our favorite!

Greek Belly | Best Gyros

Pancakes

Is IHOP still a thing? We get it, their pancakes are good at 1:00 AM in the morning when nothing else is open, but are they really that good? Next time you’re hungry for pancakes stop into Van Gogh’s Eeterie on Historic Commercial Street. They serve up the most perfect Dutch pancakes; making IHOP’s pancakes pale in comparison. Also, they serve breakfast all day, so if you’re craving breakfast for dinner they’ve got you covered.

Van Gogh’s Eeterie | Best Pancakes

Chicken Sandwich

Popeye’s and Chick-fi-la recently made headlines with their chicken sandwich feud. But to be quite honest, neither compares to a Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Hot Clucker’s. This “Nashville Style” hot chicken joint will leave you wanting more. They have four spiciness levels: The Nancy, 1 Cluck, 2 Clucks, and “Hot Mother Clucker.” Beware of “Hot Mother Clucker” unless you enjoy pain.

Hot Clucker’s | Best Chicken Sandwich

Cheeseburger

Don’t get us wrong, we like a Wendy’s burger every now and then, but it’s nowhere near the same level as a Black Sheep burger. These mouth-watering, flavorful, and juicy burgers will go down well with a boozy-shake and some salt-and-vinegar fries – our favorite. Not to mention, now with 3 locations in Springfield, it’s super convenient.

Black Sheep Burgers + Shakes | Best Burgers

  • Location: Three Locations: Chesterfield Village, East Sunshine, and Downtown off of Walnut Street.
  • Phone: (417) 319-5905
  • Website: https://www.blaaacksheep.com/

Breakfast Burrito

Thinking of stopping at McDonald’s for a breakfast burrito and coffee? Think again! Instead, you should make a quick detour to Kingdom Coffee for their breakfast burrito. You can get a bacon or potato burrito, and it comes with a side of salsa. This thing will seriously fill you up. And you might as well get one of the best cups of coffee in town while you’re there.

Kingdom Coffee | Best Breakfast Burritos (and coffee)

Support Local

Don’t get us wrong, it’s not a bad thing to visit a chain restaurant, but we hope that you consider supporting local businesses on a more regular basis. Not only are you supporting your neighbors, but you’re also likely to enjoy higher quality ingredients and better taste.

We hope this list was fun and informative. If you enjoyed this, drop us a line at info@longitudebranding.com. Thanks!

What is a Ghost Kitchen?

A ghost kitchen, also known as a ghost restaurant, a virtual restaurant, or a cloud restaurant, is a food business that exists solely to provide delivery. In these restaurants, food is intended for off-premise dining only.

In a typical ghost restaurant model, the food is made in a rented kitchen, while being ordered and delivered through a third-party delivery service.

Ghost kitchens are often found in high-rent areas, like college towns. Instead of drawing in foot traffic, virtual restaurants work well anywhere as long as their delivery service can easily access customers.

Ghost kitchens are a fairly new concept, although some pizza places have already had carry-out and delivery-only options for years, however, they still maintain a brick-and-mortar location, which ghost restaurants do not.

Why are Ghost Kitchens Gaining Popularity?

In most cities, the restaurant business is already incredibly cutthroat, meaning there is very little room for new players. Delivery is also increasing in popularity because customers want convenience.

In fact, in many areas, restaurants that don’t offer delivery are closing down.

Many traditional restaurants, start-ups, chains, and third-party delivery services are looking into ghost kitchens as a way to manage the demand for delivery while increasing market share.

How Do Ghost Kitchens Work?

Ghost restaurants typically operate through a third-party delivery platform.

From the customer’s perspective, he or she finds a restaurant to order from after browsing through a favorite third-party delivery app, such as GrubHub, UberEats, or DoorDash.

The customer places an order and receives the delivered food from the third-party vendor.

From the restaurant’s perspective, the restaurant receives the order and fulfills it in a kitchen that does not offer a storefront. It then hands the order off to the delivery partner.

The Pros of a Ghost Kitchen

There are many pros to the ghost kitchen model. The first is that the ghost kitchen model reduces the need for start-up costs and resources. This allows new players to enter the restaurant scene in a given location without as much of a barrier to entry.

For example, if one is attempting to open a food truck, there is a cost to secure a truck and procure the right kitchen equipment for the truck.

This also opens up more opportunities to experiment. If one model fails, it is fairly inexpensive to switch gears and try something different.

Ghost kitchens also do not require new restaurants to compete over high-traffic locations, since customers do not visit the location itself. This also means that these restaurants aren’t renting dining space that isn’t being utilized.

Another benefit is that the ghost kitchen model does not require an existing customer base. Your restaurant will find hungry customers through a third-party platform.

Ghost kitchens also have fewer overhead costs because the kitchen is rented. There can also be reduced labor costs because the only staff required is the kitchen staff.

Unlike a food truck or a traditional restaurant, there is also less variability based on the weather. A restaurant with a separated parking lot or a food truck may experience a decrease in sales if the weather is poor.

The Cons of a Ghost Kitchen

The biggest problem with a ghost kitchen is that these restaurants often have to pay a high fee to third-party delivery services, sometimes as high as 30%. There can also be additional costs associated with premium placements on the third-party vendor’s site or app.

Another factor against ghost kitchens is that they don’t have that brick-and-mortar or truck for visibility and brand recognition. This is why digital branding even more important for Ghost Kitchens.

It can also be a bit more challenging for these types of restaurants to receive licensing, especially if your business is the first of its kind in the area. Inspectors may not be used to this type of business model and maybe more reluctant to license the business.

Location can be a negative factor for kitchen staff and business owners because rentable kitchens are not always in the most easily-accessed locations.

Lastly, because it is such a new model, it is a major risk.

Getting Started with a Ghost Kitchen

If a ghost kitchen sounds like a venture you’re interested in trying, there are a few key steps you’ll need to take. There’s a lot that needs to be considered when opening a new restaurant, even a ghost kitchen.

Gain access to rentable commercial kitchen space

What many new-to-restaurant-owning entrepreneurs fail to realize is that food that is sold to consumers must be produced in a licensed commercial kitchen. This isn’t the major hurdle it once was as there are now many shared-use kitchens or commercial kitchens you can rent by the hour, day, or month. Think of this as a coworking space for chefs, caterers, food trucks, and other food producers without traditional kitchen spaces.

You’ll need to gain access to a rentable commercial kitchen in your area before you begin. Prepare for a somewhat lengthy process when it comes to starting out, as the kitchen will want to vet you and your business before agreeing to rent to you.

Apply for inspection

Once you’ve locked down your kitchen, you’ll need to apply for your inspection with the health department. Many health departments will need to visit you in the commercial kitchen space before you start selling your food.

When the health inspector comes for the inspection, they will want to see your production methods, food storage areas, and general flows. You will also need to have these written out for your final inspection and to receive your license, so it is best if you can provide that to the health inspector when they visit as well.

The most important thing to communicate with your inspector during your inspection is that you are producing food safely and legally. Walk them through your menu, your production process, how you plan to hold time and temperature, and what third-party service providers you plan to use. This includes any national or local food distributors and suppliers, as well as your delivery service.

Select your third-party service provider

There are many third-party service providers to choose from. Tech-enabled ordering platforms will charge you a fee in exchange for providing one of the most critical aspects of your business – so you need to choose wisely.

When looking at providers, you should find out what your options are and evaluate them based on the average delivery times, reliability, and customer service. Look at their customer reviews and interview your top contenders. This should be a partnership, and it will be an incredibly painful process if you select the wrong vendor.

Sometimes these delivery services charge a painful commission fee – as much as 30% of the order. However, it is still going to be considerably less cost than trying to deliver yourself, and your customers will be able to find you through their platform, instead of you having to find all of your customers through your own marketing efforts.

Plan for delivery

One of the biggest cons for chain restaurants who are starting to offer delivery is that their food is not made for that type of distribution. It doesn’t hold up well to being transported.

As you plan out your menu, make sure your food is temperature-controlled and holds up well to travel. You don’t want your food to arrive cold, soggy, or overly messy. If it does, you’re almost guaranteed to lose customers quickly.

As you think about your menu, keep it simple – especially to start. Consider reusing the same ingredients in different ways to keep costs down.

You’ll also want to train your staff to make sure quality is consistent.

Have a loyalty plan in place

Loyalty is critical for the success of any local operation – especially food service. Check with your third-party delivery provider for the ability to add a loyalty program or coupon codes. Then you can distribute these codes to your customers when their orders are delivered.

Loyalty is critical for the success of any local operation – especially food service.

You can also build up loyalty on your social platforms. Perhaps run a contest for customers who post pictures of your food where they can earn a discount on their next order. Contest or not, be sure to reward customers for formally reviewing your business or even sharing it on social media. Word of mouth and referrals are just as critical to your ghost restaurant’s success as loyal customers are, if not more so.

Identify your niche

Again, this applies to nearly any type of restaurant, not just ghost kitchens. You need to have a niche – whether that means you are appealing to an underrepresented demographic in your area (like working parents or the elderly) or filling a void for a specific type of food (Thai in a city that does not have many Thai restaurants, for example.)

If you’re feeling stuck, have conversations. Chances are, your friends, neighbors, and relatives have ideas for what they “wish they could have” in your area. Once you come up with a concept, test it conversationally as well. One person’s opinion may not mesh with the overall landscape.

Digital branding is king

Since you don’t have a brick and mortar or a truck for customers to immediately identify with, you will need a strong online brand. You might even consider hiring a marketing consultant or firm to help you get started if this isn’t something you are already familiar with.

Since you don’t have a brick and mortar or a truck for customers to immediately identify with, you will need a strong online brand.

One of the most important brand components is a strong name. Make sure it isn’t too similar to another restaurant in your area, and it should also align with your menu and the type of cuisine you offer. If “Buckey’s Burger Palace” only sells tacos, that is probably not a model that will be set up for success.

You’ll also need a solid website. Make sure your site looks professional, and functions well. Include a lot of pictures of your food, and a unique logo that is clear to read.

A strong social media presence is also critical. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are the most common platforms for food companies and restaurants to connect directly with customers. Again, make sure your social media accounts have a lot of high-quality pictures of your food so that these channels showcase what you have to offer.

Make sure your website and your social media channels direct your potential customers to order from your chosen third-party vendor, so your potential customers can easily locate you. Because ghost kitchens are a relatively new concept, this may be a new process for your customers too, so walking them through it can set you up for success.

You should also include your menu on your website and your social media channels. This will entice customers to order from you, even if they are unfamiliar with ghost restaurants or your chosen third-party vendor.

In closing

Ghost restaurants are certainly worth considering if you’ve been interested in getting into the restaurant business but start-up costs and capital have been a barrier for you. However, you should know that as a new concept, these types of businesses are still risky and may not be immediately successful. It may also be too new in your area, and therefore you may not have access to a rentable kitchen space in your area at this time.

Be sure to choose a great name and focus a lot on your restaurant’s branding

However, if you do decide to give it a try, be sure to choose a great name and focus a lot on your restaurant’s branding. It is also critical to choose an excellent third-party ordering and delivery service.

By taking these steps, it is possible to see success through this new restaurant business model. To help ensure your new business venture is successful, it may be worth hiring a restaurant marketing agency. These types of professionals will have a much better idea for how to appeal to your target audience as well as what will be successful and what may not be.

Holiday Marketing Ideas for Restaurants

When it comes to Marketing Your Restaurant during the Holiday season, it’s important to make a plan. It’s no secret that most restaurants see a substantial loss in attendance and revenue around the holiday season, especially in countries like the United States and Canada, which can result in a significant financial loss for your business.

Such problems can be attributed to the fact that, well, it is just plain cold outside during those months of the year. From mid-to-late September to early April, the weather outside is frightful, and most people do not like having to go out that front door unless they have too. Most of the time going out to eat at the nearest McDonalds or Wendys is not on that list of necessities.

Additionally, it is during these times (especially from November to December), that families will often go on vacation to various parts of the planet, often for multiple weeks at times, thus resulting in increased air-fare revenue, but a further decrease in restaurants revenue.

However, that does not mean it is game over. There are some restaurant marketing strategies and tactics that can be fun and engaging that will help make the holidays a little less painful. Let’s go over just a few of those ideas right now.

Top Restaurant Marketing Ideas for the Holiday Season

Offer the Patrons A Special Menu Item at a New Price

Often one of the easiest ways to get people into a restaurant is also a classic; setting a new price of a popular menu item at your restaurant for the holidays. By doing something like this, during this particular time frame, people will be more inclined to make the trip since they know that if they do not, they may miss out on the savings for the year.

Give Two Delicious Meals for The Price of One

This is another easy one, and very common to see restaurants offer during the holidays. Entice your customers with a two-for-one-deal. A special offer like this, providing additional savings can be just what you need to fill your restaurant during the holidays. It works well, but use this strategy sparingly; you don’t want your customers to get addicted to expecting deals all the time.

Offer A Different Kind Of Meal For The Holidays

Everyone loves a good holiday menu item. Subway’s Apple Pie Cookie, Sonic’s Pecan Pie Funnel, Starbuck’s Peppermint Bark Frappuccino. During the several short weeks of the holiday season, these restaurants often see great success because they provide their patrons with something not seen every other day. So, perhaps add a new holiday-themed menu for a change.

Start-Up A Charity Drive

The holidays are all about giving and goodwill to others, why not join in on that spirit and start up a charity drive? Perhaps for every ten dollars spent, three of those dollars will go to a local Children’s hospitals or non-profit. McDonald’s is one of the most famous for this, supporting families with sick children through their Ronald McDonald House Charity program.

Speaking of Charity, Money Is Not the Only Option to Donate

Many organizations will host annual food or clothing drives throughout the holiday months, bringing in as much food and clothes to donate to local charitable organizations. So, perhaps offering something similar can help boost sales. You may even consider giving away a free menu item if a customer donates to the cause. While it does sound like you might be losing money by this method, it also brings more people through your doors. So, not only do you get them into the building, but you also build up a positive reputation with the community.

Offer Special Pricing for Children’s Menus

Another excellent way to boost revenue and marketing is to lower pricing for children’s menus or just children in general. However, it is not uncommon for restaurants to offer some kind of “children under 4 eat free” promotion year-round. So, if you’re not already offering this deal, consider offering it during the holidays. It might be just the thing you need to convince more families to bring them along.

Change Your Tune

It is the holiday season, so you know as well as I do what is going to be blasting on radio stations: Christmas songs. If you are the kind of restaurant that likes to have music playing in the background, perhaps changing the station to one that is playing Christmas music can help. It is a small change, but one that costs nothing and can help boost the morale of both customers and employees.

Deck the Halls with Holiday Signage

It is extremely common for businesses to decorate their buildings with holiday colors and iconography. I know our local Churches sees an increase in attendance during the holidays because they set up various Christmas and holiday decorations; so, perhaps spruce up the windows and dining area with holiday imagery.

‘Tis The Season to Be Jolly

Perhaps allow the employees to wear festive clothing and colors for the holidays, instead of just that regular uniform? Red? White? Green? A mixture of all three? Why not? The holidays are a time to spread happiness, and by having your employees show and express themselves through their creativity (not to mention through the marketing), you can expect some people might just be coming back next week.

If You Are Willing to Go with The Extreme

Then perhaps redecorate the entire restaurant to be nothing but a winter theme? Maybe make the dining area Santa’s Workshop or a frozen wonderland? This goes exceptionally well with allowing staff to wear festive colors or outfits. (Though, in my experience, it is best not mandating the employees wear these colors if they prefer their standard uniform). Though, do take care not to go overboard too early.

Christmas Movietime!

Is to play appropriate Christmas movies and specials if you happen to have a TV or TVs in your restaurant. While it is uncommon for most eatery establishment to have them outside of sports bars, some family establishments still have one or two playing anything and everything at all times.

Perhaps Consider Going Digital

In the past twenty years, the internet has gone from this slow, clunky and unresponsive tool that required no one to be on the phone line to use, to now one of the most potent and intricate tools to ever be constructed. As such, sending out holiday-themed emails, offers, messages, notifications, and decking out your advertisement to model something more festive can be a nice gesture (especially if those who subscribe to your email listing get a coupon or savings with those deals).

Special Contests and Events

The holidays are about giving merriment and gifts to those around you, so why not offer gift cards to your customers for special events? Maybe a gift to your 100th customer of the holiday season? Alternatively, random “hey, you just won a free twenty-dollar gift card to (insert store name here), kind of prize. Alternatively, run contests and special events via your website or inside your place of business. Nothing drives up happiness (and sales), like getting a gift card just before Christmas. It is a fantastic gesture to make for both your employees and your customers, and everyone will be happy.

Add a Traditional Holiday Meal to the Menu

This one ties back to the third option listed above, but this time, go above and beyond the call of duty and maybe offer customers traditional Christmas dinners during the month of December. Dinners like ham and turkey, mass potatoes and stuffing, all that delicious yumminess and more. This alone can be an excellent marketing strategy for that final month of the year.

Pastries! Lots And Lots Of Pastries

This one may be tricky to do if you are not running a bakery, as this idea does benefit them more-so than traditional restaurants and fast-food joints, but that does not mean they are out of the picture. Most establishments offer some form of dessert, traditionally cookies and cake. Perhaps instead of traditional cookies, you can go with gingerbread cookies?

Host Community Events

The holidays are about family, friends and getting together with one another. Perhaps hire local artists to play at your restaurant or a community lot with you as a sponsor. This is one of the best marketing ideas I have to offer here.

Let Us Not Forget the Employees Themselves

The holidays can be stressful for men and women in the service industry, show them you appreciate their hard work and determination by throwing an after-work or Christmas party for your employees and their families. Another way is to make sure everyone goes home with a nice additional bonus. Whatever you choose to go with, make sure it comes from the heart because by making your employees happy, that will not only reflect on their performance during work hours, but word will spread about how kind and generous you are to both your employees, and to the customers, along with the general reception of it all.

Invite Mr. and Mrs. Claus

If you are running a restaurant that caters to families, perhaps see about asking one of your employees to dress up as Santa or Mrs. Claus and interact with the children. Or, if you can afford it hire a professional Claus for a special experience.

Maybe See About Cross-Promotion

Cross-promotions can be a fantastic marketing tool, just like everything else we have discussed in this list. Maybe see about teaming up with a local competitor to boost sales in various areas like goods and services, while also offering competitive prices. You can even combine this with giving back to charities or non-profits and do some good for your community.

Lastly, Have Fun with It

Christmas is a time for festivities, joy, and merriment. There are loads of methods to drumming up marketing support during the holidays because of the time and era we live in. The best tip I can give when trying to increase revenue via marketing is to make it all about the holidays and the people, while also having fun with it.

Christmas is such a beautiful and wonderful time of the year, and everyone deserves to be happy during these times. I hope this article gives you some thoughts and ideas on how to go about marketing during these times.

25+ Restaurant Branding and Logo Design Inspirations

Fast Food Restaurant Branding

Fast food restaurants are primarily focused on the speed of the service. These operations can range anywhere from small scale street food carts to massive multi-billion-dollar corporations such as McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Food isn’t ordered from the table, but rather a front counter. After ordering, diners will typically carry their own food to their table, and dispose of their own waste after eating. Drive through and take-out options may also be available. Fast food restaurants are also known as Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs).

fast food restaurant branding by Amr Ashraf

by Amr Ashraf

 

fast food restaurant branding

by Longitude°

by Rico John Jambaro

fast food restaurant branding

by Insigniada

by Arpit Dawar

by Melissa Cong-Huyen

by Ben Harman

Fast-Casual Restaurant Branding

Fast-casual restaurants are usually chain restaurants, like Qdoba or Panera Bread. In contrast to fast food restaurants, food is often prepared at the restaurant instead of offsite. Fast-casual restaurants don’t typically offer full table service, however many do provide non-disposable cutlery and plates. The prices of food tend to be higher, and also the quality of the food is better than conventional fast food restaurants, but sometimes is lower than a casual dining experience.

by Roden Dushi

fast casual restaurant branding by Longitude

by Longitude

fast casual restaurant branding by Longitude

by Longitude°

by Honedon

by Lucas Jubb

Casual Dining Restaurant Branding

A restaurant that serves moderately-priced food with a casual atmosphere is often referred to as a “casual dining restaurant.” Aside from buffet restaurants, these restaurants will typically provide table service as well. Examples of chain restaurants that would fall into this category would be TGI Fridays or Applebee’s. Casual dining restaurants will usually have a full bar and a separate bar staff as well as a full beer menu and limited selection of wines.

by Martin David

casual dining restaurant branding

by Longitude°

casual dining restaurant branding

by Longitude°

by Brad Lockhart

by Ron Gibbons

Premium Casual Restaurant Branding

Originating from Western Canada, premium casual restaurants include chains like Earl’s, JOEY, or Cactus Club Cafe. These types of restaurants are often considered as an upscale fast-casual restaurant. LIke casual dining, they will often have a dining room and lounge area with multiple screens. These types of restaurants are typically found in shopping districts or downtown areas and will attract young professionals to their urban atmosphere. Premium casual restaurants have a wide variety of menu options including pasta, pizza, seafood, burgers, steaks, and Asian foods.

by Tad Carpenter

by Nathan Riley

by SIMMER

by peter molnaar

by Steve Wolf

by Josh Warren

by Longitude°

Fine Dining Restaurant Branding

Fine dining restaurants have specific, dedicated meal courses, and provide full-service to guests. The design of these restaurants will feature high-quality materials, and will often have particular rules for dining that visitors are expected to follow – sometimes this includes a dress code.

by 𝚃𝚛𝚊𝚌𝚝𝚘𝚛𝚋𝚎𝚊𝚖

by Aaron Bloom

by Mike Ryan

by Ian Ruisard

by Aaron Johnson

9 Restaurant Trends to Be Ready for in 2019

Restaurateurs are looking forward to the upcoming release of “What’s Hot Culinary Forecast 2019” from the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The research is a detailed report from the annual survey of the American Culinary Federation membership. The survey is intended as an attempt to guide top menu trends each year. However, when it comes to the holistic restaurant strategy, there are many other things restauranteurs should also be watching for in 2019. This article will briefly explore 9 restaurant trends expected to be in play for the upcoming year.

The trends highlighted in this article are developments which were started this year. They provide a general direction which consumers are headed with their purchasing decisions. While there are many important trends that are top of mind for the industry year after year, such as food safety and waste reduction, the trends in this article are related to what consumers expect in their restaurant experience.

1. Fast Casual

Fast-casual dining is most commonly found in the United States. Such services do not offer table service and are found to be moderately priced right between fine dining and fast food. Fast-casual is on the rise because the food at these types of establishments is typically a higher quality than fast food with less frozen or processed ingredients. Consumers perceive such restaurants as a healthier option for their families when they are choosing to eat out.

2. Order Ahead – Quick Service Restaurant

According to the NRA’s research (2018), a quarter of consumers say that technology plays a role in selecting a restaurant. In addition, technology is a core factor in the order ahead or Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) setting. Consumers are continuing with the trend of turning to their mobile devices on the go. The order ahead technology has been well adopted by companies like Starbucks, Dominos, Dunkin Brands, and many others. While the adoption of ordering ahead is popular to consumers, it comes with challenges for the restaurant. Considerations for restaurants according to the QSR magazine (2018) are issues with the payment experience and vulnerability to fraud. Quick service restaurants who are turning to e-commerce must consider their payment strategies and fraud protection to avoid losses.

3. Kiosk Ordering & Restaurant Tech

Kiosk ordering is another play from the advancing technology in the restaurant space. While the idea of kiosk ordering is similar to order ahead apps mentioned above, actual physical kiosks are proving to be a value-add to restaurants into 2019. McDonald’s has been one of the early adopters of this kiosk strategy. According to their CEO in an interview on CNBC earlier this year, Steve Easterbrook told CNBC that “if people want to dwell, have a little bit more time, they can go to a self-order kiosk, they can browse through the menu…and perhaps customize the food to their liking.” Kiosk ordering has become a natural way for consumers to get what they want through a computer interface they use every day.

Even limited and full-service restaurants are integrating the kiosk experience into their operations with handheld tablet menus. These tablets tap into another key 2019 restaurant technology trend: self-payment.

In fact, a recent survey by TSYS found that 79% of today’s customers want restaurants to offer tableside payment because of the convenience factor and extra layer of financial data security (the customer’s credit card never leaves the table).

(For more ideas regarding upcoming restaurant tech trends for 2019 check out this webinar with Buzztime and Seven Rooms)

4. Alternative Foods

Food swapping or alternative food ingredient options will be an ongoing trend into 2019. Consumers are interested more than ever in their health and weight. As a result of weight loss marketing of programs like that of Paleo, Keto diets and others, consumers are switching foods on the menu. For example, they might ask for a lettuce wrapped sandwich rather than the bun or fresh zucchini noodles rather than pasta. Adopting the alternative food mindset allows restaurant brands to attract consumers who want the food the way they want to eat it.

5. Vegan Movement

It is not surprising that the vegetarian and vegan movement continues as a 2019 trend. The movement is growing and not going away anytime soon. With the continued focus on health, climate, and animal welfare this movement has traction. As the result of how these consumers work, restaurants should have a couple of options on their menu for vegans; however, truly passionate vegans and vegetarians tend to flock to restaurants that cater to their choices in food as a lifestyle commitment. If you try to offer vegan options as well as mainstream menu items, you’ll probably find little success in attracting the vegan audience.

6. Simple Foods

Restaurants should have menu options that clearly offer simple ingredients. Simple menus that are easy to understand and ingredients that are not too complex can attract consumers. While the meal might not really be a healthier option than your current menu description, it is perceived better if the ingredients are common names and easy to obtain outside of your restaurant. This trend is more of a marketing and positioning trend than one of the actual changes in the food you offer.

7. On-site Farming

On-site farming is becoming more and more common. As such, it made it to this 2019 restaurant trends list. However, most on-site farming restaurants are only offering garden produce in their restaurants. On-site farming can be an effective strategy for vegan and vegetarian establishments who offer fine dining. Where all of the ingredients are readily available, and consumers can see how they are treated, a premium price can be achieved to match the added expense. Again, a strategy for emphasis on quality selection.

8. Farm to Table

Farm to table is somewhat similar to the trend of on-site farming above; however, it includes dairy and proteins such as red meats, fish, and poultry as farms are off-site. Farm to table is a trend common in urban environments where the farms are not too far away from town. This strategy is an effective marketing strategy to attract consumers who care about quality and fresh ingredients. The reality is that all consumers really want the freshest and best food available at a fair price. Making sure your products are never frozen gives the consumer a peace of mind that their meal will be of the highest quality.

9. Wood Heat

Wood heat isn’t really much more than an alternative heat source. However, this trend is one that we are seeing more and more of. It started out in the United States with brick ovens being used by many pizza parlors. Wood heat is a heat source that takes time and work to create. As the result, consumers perceive this effort and translate it into quality. Wood heat can often also enhance the taste of the food being cooked from the smoke generated during the cooking process. While wood heat is a likely trend in 2019, it isn’t one that every restaurant in the country can adopt.

Trends are a challenge to predict as they can change rapidly due to the influence of new technology or techniques. However, these trends are the general direction consumers are guiding restaurants today and into 2019. It is clear that consumers are seeking restaurants that offer options that are generally easy to order, healthy, and fresh. Be sure your restaurant’s core message and branding are aligned to deliver on any of these three categories. The most important strategy; however, is to deliver the restaurant experience that your specific consumers want.

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