Boost Restaurant Sales with these Creative Ideas

As society looks to move forward amidst COVID-19, many operations are looking for creative ways to boost restaurant sales.

Whether your doors are now wide open or just starting to unlock, there are things you can do to help bring patrons back to your restaurant.

Keep reading below to learn about some creative ways you can increase the volume of diners to your operation and boost restaurant sales.

Leverage creative ideas to boost restaurant sales for your operation

Incentive “Events”

You’re open, so let the public know! Drum up some excitement and interest on what’s going on in your restaurant with incentive ‘events’.

Welcome Back or Thank You party

Plan an evening to welcome back loyal patrons and thank them for being with you through this tough time.

Consider having three different time slots (5pm, 7:30pm, 10pm) for people to RSVP & offer the first 10 RSVPs of each a free first drink upon arrival OR a gift card.

Create a new, exclusive menu for the event to incentivize customers to want to come try new dishes. Think about offering a sampler platter of some of your most famous dishes. Attendees can be reminded why they love your restaurant and want to come back.

This event is also a great way for new patrons to visit your location and try multiple dishes at a time. This exposure could help boost restaurant sales moving forward with new, loyal patrons.

Neighborhood Block Party

Partner with neighborhood restaurants to plan a reopening block party.

Each restaurant can offer some limited block party food and drink specials that highlight the best menu items. The block party can invite attendees to try a couple at each of their stops.

Work together to offer a discount if both restaurants are visited. For example, offer 15% off a customer’s order if they show a receipt from the partner operation.

Utilize tools and templates to create coupons and other marketing materials to help promote your event and special offers. It can help increase awareness and help boost restaurant sales for you and all participating operations.

Date Night “Picnic”

If your restaurant doesn’t have outdoor seating capabilities, put together a picnic-friendly menu that guests can choose from. Encourage people to enjoy their meal outside in a park.

Package the products in picnic baskets, bags, anything easy to transport, and market it as a perfect date night activity for those looking to get out of their homes while staying distantly safe from others.

National Eat Outside Day

August 31st is National Eat Outside Day, so why not have a party for it?

Stagger your reservations to best suit your restaurant’s capacities and spice up your outdoor space to get people excited to be there. Or, have a limited takeout menu that encourages eating in a nearby park if the restaurant itself is full.

By providing guests a positive experience, it may help create patron loyalty and boost restaurant sales moving forward.


Free stuff is always a win! Keep your guests on their social media toes with opportunities to join you for a meal with discounts & giveaways.

Leverage social media

Does your restaurant have an Instagram page? Put it to work with some of these creative ideas to help boost restaurant sales:

  • Create a fun challenge!
    • “First drink is on us if you post an Instagram story while you’re at the restaurant of the food/drinks you ordered, tagging the restaurant”
    • *Extra tip*: make sure to repost those posts to expand your social media presence
  • Add a post to Instagram encouraging people to follow your page and tag a friend in the comments
    • Explain that you will randomly select 10 winners who do this to receive a gift card to your restaurant for them and their friend
  • In a similar manner, you can also post an Instagram of a specific dish on your page
    • Randomly select 10 people who liked it to receive that dish for free upon their next trip to the restaurant
    • You can randomly select winners once or choose one person daily for a week long period to keep momentum going
    • This is a great way to encourage people to visit your operation and help boost restaurant sales
  • Encourage diners to send you a picture of their takeout meal from your restaurant or publish a post on social media and tag you in it
    • Diners can be chosen at random to receive a discount on their next order
Reward loyal customers

Rewarding loyal patrons is a great way to increase future visits and help boost restaurant sales.

Plus, a happy patron is more likely to recommend your restaurant to their friends and family. Try some of the below ideas to help reward these guests.

  • Offer a ‘Buy One, Give One’ deal
    • If a patron buys a drink or app, give one free to the friend they brought with them to the restaurant
  • Create a customer loyalty program if you don’t already have one
    • It can be as simple as a card that gets stamped every time $50 or more has been spent, and rewards guests with a $100 gift card once all 10 stamps are collected
      • You can adjust the number of stamps needed and value of gift card to best align with your operation
    • Similarly, you can also make this a “Get takeout 3 times, get a free app or free drink on us in-house”
      • Again, play with the numbers and giveaway to make sense for your restaurant
  • Gift Card Roulette.
    • Advertise on social media sites that you’re dropping gift cards (or coupons) randomly into take-out bags and encourage guests to “order for the chance to win!”
    • This is a great incentive for regulars to keep ordering and for new customers to try it out for the first time. This could help boost restaurant sales now and in the future
  • Offer ‘Locals Only’ Deals
    • This could be a discount prices for locals that will help increase foot traffic and show thanks to those who’ve been helping to keep their establishment running
      • Guests can confirm residence by showing a local address on their driver’s license to take advantage of the deal

Bring the guests to you virtually

Work the virtual space! Everyone is craving ways to be creative and connect.

Introduce your staff
  • Employee Spotlights
    • Highlight a FOH or BOH employee every Friday to give an inside look into who’s helping to make your restaurant run
    • Not only helps your customers get to know your employees, but also establishes your business as one that cares about those who make it incredible
  • “Happy Hour with our Bartenders”
    • Sell your most popular drinks via kits (sans alcohol, depending on the state), and set up a virtual happy hour/livestream for your bartenders to walk through the process of making them (via platforms like Zoom)
  • “Cook with us”
    • Same concept as the above, just with your most popular dishes instead of drinks & with the head chef giving step by step instructions
    • Once your guests try your dishes at home, they may be more inclined to come try the real thing in person. This could be a great way to boost restaurant sales in the future
Invite guests “in”
  • Give a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how the BOH team prepares the food your customers know and love
    • You can focus on a different BOH team member each week, showcasing a different dish and how it’s made/what goes into the process
  • “Trivia Night”
    • If you’ve done Trivia nights in the past, you can offer a “Trivia Night Package” that includes a trivia sheet, two meals of their choosing & a bottle of wine or six-pack of beer alongside it
    • Then, livestream trivia so attendees can play & eat just like they’re back in your bar

Menu Items – make them matter!

It’s not just food people are drooling over these days. People are looking to give back and get involved. This means they often are willing to pay more for charity and FUN.

Get customers involved
  • “Take & Bake”
    • Create family-style meals that are prepped and just need to be cooked at home
    • Offers larger quantities for bigger families, and the ease of enjoying the food at home without fear of germs, contamination, etc.
  • Add a “donate to healthcare workers” option to your takeout menu
    • Not only can you provide hot meals to those workers, but it also gives your customers the opportunity to feel like they’re giving back as well
    • Customers tend to take notice when the companies they spend money on do good for their communities. As a result, they continue to spend money there. This can help boost restaurant
Have fun with your menu
  • Wine Tastings
    • You don’t even have to close the restaurant as a special occasion, simply advertise good deals on wines during specific nights or make it easy for customers to sample multiple bottles at a discounted rate
    • Think: wine flights, and make sure your staff is well-versed in wine so they can talk your customers through what they’re tasting
    • ‘Wine Wednesday’ could be utilized as a once a week offering of those flights/tastings/wine discounts that will help boost restaurant traffic mid-week
  • Themed menus
    • Create a themed menu for the return of sporting events (NBA, NFL, MLB, etc) and offer in-store discounts on the night of games to encourage people to come in & eat while enjoying the game (socially distant of course).
    • Consider even giving a logo’d sports mask for in-dining guests

Do these ideas have your creative juices flowing?

There are so many great ways for your operation to connect and engage with patrons to help boost restaurant traffic. Try a few and see which option works best for you!

Looking for additional ways your restaurant can boost sales or save on costs? Dining Alliance is here to help! We work with independent operators to ensure they stay competitive by lowering their costs and increasing quality.

Want to learn more? Contact us! We’d love to meet you.