Guide to Restaurant Week Success


As a restaurant owner, it is crucial to identify opportunities that can help your business gain exposure, and help new customers learn about your restaurant. One of the ways to accomplish this is by participating in events such as Restaurant Week. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know to have a successful Restaurant Week.

What is Restaurant Week?

Originating in New York City, Restaurant Week was designed to celebrate all the amazing establishments the city has. The event is usually held by working together with local tourism bodies and commerce chambers to highlight local restaurants. During the week, restaurants can cash in on this trend by offering reduced prices or discounted meals to entice customers to discover new food, and showcase local culinary talent.

How does Restaurant Week Work?

Generally, restaurant weeks are planned with either tourist board and commerce chamber involvement, or some combination of the two. The tourist board and/or other involved members will set a date for restaurant week, usually during slower seasonal periods such as early spring or winter. The length of time can range, some cities opt to do just a week while others may choose to do two weeks to a month.

Prior to Restaurant Week starting, establishments will design prix fixe menus that diners can take advantage of. There is a lot of variety in how the deals can be set up, ranging from fixed options for a three course meal (i.e, appetizer, main, and dessert) or allocating discounts on certain items. There will usually be a set discounts that must be offered to qualify for restaurant week promotion, which could be anywhere between 30% – 50% but this can vary from state to state.

Top Tips for Restaurant Week Success

The best way to conquer Restaurant Week is by developing a clear and strategic marketing plan to ensure your business as successful as possible with customers in this short period of time. To assist with this, we’ve put together some of the best tips to help you get on the road to ultimate restaurant week success.

Train the Staff – and Staff Well!

Service is an integral part of dining, and it’s part of the first impression that diners are forming before they have even tasted the food. There are two components to consider: how the staff is trained and how fast service is. For the best chance of success during such a busy period, it’s important to lots of staff to handle demand so customers don’t need to chase for service and train staff thoroughly so that customers have the best experience.

Keep with Restaurant Week Traditions: Prix Fixe Menus and More

Restaurant Week may be one of the few times where it’s more beneficial to stick with traditions rather than go out of the box. The primary thing to remember when designing options for the menu is to cater to different budgets to attract a wide net of new customers by designing prix fixe menus. Traditionally, this means offering three price packages, from a cheaper option that’s more simple to an expensive option that includes a few extras to incentivize customers.

Promote Your Involvement

If you decide to take part in the festivities, promote it! While local tourist boards will definitely be marketing the event, giving you free promotional opportunities, creating your own can help boost interest and visibility. Let customers know through social media, email, window posters, and leaflet or flyer inserts with meals to publicize your involvement and the deals you’re offering.

Upsell to the Customers with Fantastic Dining Deals

Because of the different pricing options offered, Restaurant Week is less about profit and more about gaining revenue from new customers. However, you can increase profit by upselling the amazing deals you’ve put together, especially by training staff. They can promote deals to customers by encouraging them to come back for lunches and dinners when deals will be offered.

Go the Extra Mile

Because of the influx of new customers, set a goal to wow them! Whether that’s with the service, the quality of the meal, or a combination of the two, this is your chance. The happier you can make customers, the more you increase the chance of them returning or, at least, leaving a good review.

Spend Time on the Menu

The menu is what tends to be the deciding factor when customers are choosing what restaurants they want to visit. Think about what your goals are for that week, what kinds of customers you’re hoping to attract and what staff can handle without compromising service. The menu should look presentable, and have good price points for Restaurant Week, and include customer favorites. You can also include the option of takeout food as part of the deals to attract more customers.

Consider Using a Table Booking App

Using a table booking app during the week can help you stay organized, and prevent double-bookings and scheduling issues. The increased demand can make it difficult to keep up with reservations and details may get lost. Table booking apps can help you avoid issues and centralize information in one place to help you plan better.

Encourage Future Visits

Now that you’ve attracted customers, it’s important to keep that momentum with your restaurant customer survey! Encourage future visits by asking people to leave their email address in exchange for promo codes, offer a discount for their next visit, or a free gift card with a token amount they can redeem when dining again with you.

Benefits of Restaurant Week for Your Business

Participating in restaurant week can be very beneficial for your business when it comes to attracting new customers and promoting your business. It can help restaurants gain more exposure within their community and find new opportunities to boost profit.

An Opportunity to Boost Your Restaurant Image

The main benefit for participating is that it’s a way to boost your restaurant’s image. Perhaps you’re not that well known in the neighborhood, or you’re dealing with a lot of competition. Restaurant week deals, however, help you stand and entices customers to give your food a try.

Do Well in the Slow Season

Because the event tends to fall in slower seasons, participating can give you a welcome revenue boost during typically slower times. The lowered prices encourage more people to go out for a meal, and it’s a great way to attract new customers.

Gain New Repeat Customers

Building on the previous point, Restaurant Week gives you an opportunity to bring in new business and impress them enough that they keep coming back, thereby helping restaurants grow their customer base.

Things to Consider Before Participating in Restaurant Week

If you do decide to participate, it’s essential to know the good and the bad about Restaurant Week. While it definitely has its advantages, there are also disadvantages that could pose a problem for restaurants.

Customer Overload

There is usually increased demand during this time and while some restaurants can handle that, others may get overwhelmed. If you’re not in a position to hire more staff, the overload could end up doing more harm than good as customers may end up getting annoyed or disgruntled by the experience.

Less Profitable Food Service

While there may be more diners coming to your restaurant, that demand also means that you will be cooking more and perhaps profiting less depending on how the deals are structured. While for some this is offset by the new and repeat business generated, others may not be able to handle the lower margins.

Restaurant Week Takes Lots of Time

It’s a big commitment, so it’s important to ensure that you actually have the time to dedicate to this! Maintaining a certain level of staff and resource can take its toll depending on how long the event is scheduled to last. Make sure that you have the time and energy to devote to it as some restaurants do end up struggling.

Image: Depositphotos

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Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.