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Marketing Restaurants Trends

5 Of The Best Apps for Restaurant Owners

As technology is growing every day, sometimes it feels like you can’t keep up with the latest app trends for your business. It seems like there’s always a new app trending, and you find yourself always asking the question, “Is there an app for that?”  Business App development has been booming so there are a lot of options out there available for restaurant owners and diners.

This can make it hard to narrow which App fits best for your needs.

So, which apps are really the best for restaurant owners? Here are the apps that we believe you can best benefit from and utilize to influence and grow your business.

Here are 5 of the best apps to generate more business and make your life as a restaurant owner a little easier.

1. ChowEasy

Want to attract the perfect customer? ChowEasy is an easy and efficient way to grow business by offering a marketing tool that provides promotions for diners looking for your type of restaurant cuisine. Unlike other sites, ChowEasy allows you to directly set up promos on your terms and conditions. This marketing tool allows your business to grow by offering promotions that define your brand. Allowing diners to bid for the food and type of restaurant can match diners with bids that fit them and what they are looking for. Diners save money, and restaurants attract and retain new customers. It’s a win-win for both parties.

2.  Hootsuite

It’s crucial in today’s age to have an active social media presence. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram can gain you exposure and customers that may not know about your restaurant. So being there is a must for any restaurant but keeping up can be a difficult and daunting task.

Apps like Hootsuite allow you to manage posting and engagement, along with being fully involved in your community. Managing all your social media accounts on one easy-to-use platform, and allows you to schedule posts months in advance. Available for Apple and Android products, you can create the online presence you want for your restaurant with help from the App’s tools.

3. Partender

Selling alcohol generates revenue for restaurants because the markup is high and it’s easy to upsell it to your customers. The average revenue that comes with selling alcohol is anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of a restaurant’s income, sometimes even higher.

This App is a life save for restaurant owners serving alcohol and all you need is an iPhone. Partender helps owners manage and track liquor inventory in their bar by measuring their liquor and sales data. Creating this type of data lets you know what is being sold and calculate how much your bartenders are pouring correctly. It’s really an easy, must-have that is worth the monthly investment.

4.  Yelp

Social proof can make or break a restaurant. Managing that is an important part of marketing your restaurant.

Many diners wouldn’t even consider a restaurant until they have checked the reviews on Yelp. That’s because sites like Yelp are powerful and more influential than any other for the restaurant business. Yelp allows you to build customer loyalty and gain new customers with loyal customer reviews. This FREE tool has 132 million monthly visitors; that’s why managing a Yelp account is essential for your restaurant to grow.

5.  Feedly

Stay in the know! There’s so much going on every second, and there’s information being shared that can sometimes feel overwhelming. Don’t be left out on all the latest and greatest industry trends. Now you can stay up to date with Feedly.

Feedly is a power news aggregator, compiling information from sources all over the internet. Choose publications, blogs, and set up keyword alerts for content related to your restaurant. This App is full of helpful information, super user-friendly, and easy to read because of its minimal layout design.

What apps will your restaurant use?

Maybe you’re already using some of these.

When you stumble onto a new app, research it, find its value and determine if you can implement its use in your day-to-day restaurant business. When implementing any new tool for your restaurant, determine your end goal then find the best app to help you accomplish that goal.

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Marketing

How Restaurant Influencers Can Boost Your Business

Working with influencers can be so beneficial to your restaurant’s marketing strategy. Thanks to the massive impact of social media, restaurants can increase awareness and grow their business through a large audience, driving more traffic to their doors. There’s no doubt that the influencing market is booming right now. The industry grew from a $1.7 billion market in 2016 to $9.7 billion in 2020. For every dollar a business spends on influencers, they earn $5.20. 

That being said, it may be frightening to look at all the options and how you can utilize influencers to spread your restaurant’s messaging. Here are some common questions about food influencers, answered.

What are Food Influencers, and what do they do? 

Food influencers have a wide range of social media followers that can help you boost your restaurant’s customer base. Influencers are often celebrities and bloggers who have gained popularity through photos, videos, and personal engagements. They can promote any of your products by sharing it with their followers and what they like about your brand. More specifically, food influencers are constantly increasing and trending throughout social media websites. The idea of food culture is a scene in the media, and people love looking and browsing through food options and food tags. 

What are the benefits of working with a foodie influencer?

The benefits of working with food influencers are overwhelming. Over 70% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase a product based on a social media referral. Referrals are more effective when they come from another person rather than the actual company. That’s why the results of working with influencers have become a valuable tool for customers’ dining decisions. 

The benefits of endorsements through influencers outweigh the drawbacks. The influencers have worked to build a trusting relationship with their followers. Brands want to make sure they are exposing the content that best fits them. 

Is it worth it? Why should I consider an influencer?

Influencers make powerful partners because of their existing relationship with the audience. Influencers have advantages that are hard for brands to replicate, such as their large community of followers, personal connections, consumer trust, and social network expertise. Social influencers effectively start, share, and spread online conversations, which is incredibly valuable to brands.

Food and beverage brands often have more success with influencers than other business types. The reason for that is because food is the most popular subject that trends on social media like Instagram and TikTok. Not every consumer participates in certain activities like fashion or fitness, but everyone in the world eats food. Eating is often culturally connected to occasions like celebrating and sharing, and that’s why everyone from different parts of the world can come together on relating to food. Not only is food relatable, but visually appealing. Visual content like food and cooking is appealing to viewers and generates 94% more engagement online than text alone. Food and recipe influences are a source of marketing that is growing rapidly every day. 

How do I find the best influencer type for my restaurant? 

You want to choose the best type of influencer for your restaurant, and they are things to consider. Ask yourself the following questions;

  • Do they meet your restaurant’s ethics and values?
  • Is their engagement at Influencer Level?
  • What is your influencer budget? 

Established Food & Drink Influencers

To be considered an established influencer, there should be 10,000 + followers. Established influencers work really well within the restaurant industry.

Micro-Influencers in the Food & Drink Industry

Micro-influencers range from 1000 to 10,000 followers. Don’t let the name fool you, micro influences can have a high engagement rate with followers. The bonus of working with micro-influencers is they tend not to be as price-oriented as experienced ones because they are still trying to grow their brand. 

How much do influencers charge?  

It’s pretty simple when it comes to understanding the cost of influencer marketing. Basically, the more followers those influencers have, the higher their cost to post about your restaurant. Prices rise somewhat proportionately until they reach a point of being a celebrity influencer (with over 500k followers). 

Prices rise relatively proportional until reaching the point of celebrity influencers (with over 500k followers). In terms of formats, you’ll pay a large sum for a video – around 50% more than you would for a post. Stories are the cheapest, presumably due to their brief nature. 

Influencer Rates* Worldwide, by Influencer Tier, March 2019

Type of content / Influencer TierNano (500-5k followers)Micro (5k-30k followers)Power (30k-500k)Celebrity (500k+ followers)
Post$100$172$507$2,085
Video$114$219$775$3,138
Story$43$73$210$721

By choosing the right influencer style for your restaurant you can benefit from all that influencers have to offer. This style of marketing can create a huge impact on your business if you use it the right way. What are you waiting for? Find an experienced influencer that can help you get those customers straight to your door. 

What else should Restaurants do?  

In today’s fast-paced environment, it is important to try multiple marketing avenues for different customer segments. There are some customers who get swayed by the availability of promotions. Some customers pick a restaurant based on location and reviews. Above all, it is important for Restaurants to focus on the ‘Basics’ which are good tasting, fresh food offered in a clean and comfortable ambiance with the attentive service that all Diners expect. 


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Marketing

7 Ways to Improve your Restaurants Marketing Strategy

Now, more than ever, it’s essential to focus on your restaurant’s marketing strategy to be successful and compete with top players. It may seem overwhelming trying to keep up with the latest trends in digital marketing and media.  

There are challenges when trying to generate your restaurant’s business, especially if you are a new restaurant. Restaurants must compete for customers by going above and beyond expectations. During the Covid-19 pandemic, restaurants begin to think of new ways to generate business and keep their loyal customers by being creative with their marketing strategies. 

To help you better understand how to market your business, we have listed the most beneficial ways to improve your business’s marketing. These suggestions you will find most impactful to making your restaurant a success. 

1.Try sending emails with meaning 

We know that using email marketing is an essential tool when reaching out to customers and expanding your business’s brand. But creating emails isn’t just sending out general content once a month that will ultimately have no impact. It’s important to remember that you are competing with other businesses in your customers’ email. You want something that will catch their attention and make them open up your email over others. 

If you want your restaurant to stand out, send emails targeted specifically to the person receiving it. Someone who has dined in your place of business the past 3 months compared to someone who comes once a week, the emails should be directly targeting them, their wants, and needs. Using your customer data and adding it to your emails is more relevant to the customer than just random stuff they don’t care about. 

2. Try online reservation platforms

Online reservation platforms are essential to benefiting your restaurant’s business. Especially if you are a fine dining restaurant, giving easy access to your customers to book a table at your place of business can keep regular customers happy and gain new ones. 

Booking platforms like OpenTable, Resy, and Reserve, are all excellent places to start. These types of websites and apps give customers the tools to easily book online. Giving your customers this lets them have a convenient option to discover what options restaurants have. 

3, Make photos of dishes “instagramable”

By making everything “instagramable,” you can create leverage and use it as content to spread the word about your restaurant. By posting to Instagram is easy and FREE advertising for your restaurant. Social media is one of the best marketing tools, and if you are not using it, you’re going to need to if you want to be on the same level as your competitors. By mastering instagramable dishes, you will gain more followers and likes. 

4. Offer online delivery 

Online ordering has been more important than ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants have maintained their business through online orders and take-out options. 

Food delivery apps offer user-friendly options for customers. They can walk away with a good experience, and often you could see a positive review from someone who ordered online instead of dining in. 

5. Respond to online reviews, especially negative ones 

Online reviews can go different ways. Getting a negative review will have a negative impact on your business. Even the best restaurants can have a negative review from time to time, but it’s important to handle it properly and respond. Managing and replying to negative reviews can have a positive impact and is essential to your marketing strategy. 

Now, you have to turn a negative online review into a marketing opportunity. By positively approaching the negative review, you can use it to your advantage. By acknowledging your mistake and empathizing with the customer, you can create a place that feels safe to come to if customers did have a problem with something. It’s important to write a message back that doesn’t feel automated and one that is genuine. Take responsibility for the negative feedback, and tell your customers how you appreciate their feedback and ways you will better your business. 

6. Run smart coupon and discount campaigns

It’s always an excellent option to run coupon and discount campaigns when trying to get new people through the door. Bogos, discount codes, free offers, etc., will motivate people to try new things, and there you can build a recurring customer base. 

It’s important not to offer flat discounts all the time, especially when you are a higher-end restaurant dealing with a different tone of branding. You do not want your promotions visible to your regular customers who generally pay full price. But there is a way to offer smart discounts by making them rare and exclusive for customers while protecting your brand image.

7. Find Apps that benefit your business 

There are tons of apps that can help you market your business. Allowing other companies to promote your restaurant can see the massive advantage of apps that offer different restaurant options. 

Apps like ChowEasy offer the promotions your restaurant is running and allow you to grow your business by linking to people in your area. Unlike other sites, the ChowEasy App allows you to directly set up promos on your terms, without those hefty costs you deal with on other platforms. Learn more HERE about how you can join the ChowEasy community today.  

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Restaurants

The American Rescue Act Plan includes 28.6B for Restaurant Relief: Here’s What You Need To Know.

On March 11th, the House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Act, which will provide 28.6 billion in restaurant relief funds. This plan includes the $28.6 billion in relief grants for small restaurants, including $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans with incomes under $75,000.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) is a restaurant-specific grant program that will administer these grants to restaurants that are eligible to apply. This $28.6 billion will provide up to $5 million to restaurants that qualify. 

These grants will allow us to balance the economy and the damage done to struggling restaurants around the country. National Restaurant Association president and CEO Tom Bené said in a statement that this is just the beginning of a much longer recovery process but is hopeful for the impact these grants will have. 

The Small Business Administration (SBA) will open up the Revitalization grants application process within the upcoming weeks. Posts about qualifications, instructions, and further information will soon be available. 

Here’s what we know so far: 

  • Most American restaurants and bars that lost revenue in the past year will most likely be eligible to apply.
  • The establishments named for eligibility include: “restaurant, food stand, food truck, food cart, caterer, saloon, inn, tavern, bar, lounge, brewpub, tasting room, taproom, licensed facility or premise of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products.”
  • Businesses must meet the franchise requirements of under 20 locations to meet the grant requirements.
  • Publicly traded entities cannot qualify. 
  • Applications will be prioritized by groups, including women, veterans, and oppressed groups who have received prioritization for the first wave of grants before a wider rollout.
  • The whole application process will take around 30-45 days.
  • The SBA website will be the technology platform dealing with applications to make the process as efficient as possible. Once up and running, the program will make direct payments to applicants—a change from SVO operations used in other grants the past year. 
  • These changes are there in the hope of a smooth transition for the hundreds and thousands of applicants expected to apply.

HOW CAN YOU APPLY? 

The SBA does not yet have an official launch date, those interested in RRF grants should keep a lookout on the SBA’s Covid-19 relief options on their website. 

Not every restaurant was operating for the entirety of 2019 and 2020. In that case, the program states:

  • Restaurants that weren’t operational in 2019 can receive a grant equal to the difference between the establishment’s average monthly revenue multiplied by 12. 
  • Restaurants that weren’t in operation until 2020 can receive a grant equal to the sum of eligible expenses minus gross receipts received.
  • Restaurants that aren’t in operation at the time of their application date can still receive grant funding, but only if it has made eligible expenses 

TAKE THE IMPACT SURVEY 

The National Restaurant Association launched its latest covid-19 impact survey. Concierge taking a few moments to fill out the survey to help with data collection for local, state, and federal outreach efforts. 

Take the Survey

Categories
Dine In Trends

5 Women-Owned Restaurants in Atlanta To Check Out During Women’s History Month

Women-owned businesses are a driving force in the U.S. economy. Every day, we rely on women entrepreneurs running their businesses and demonstrating their skills and expertise in the restaurant industry.

First, let’s look at some statistics that show how women have been dominating the business world. 

  • Within the last year, women have started over 1,800 new businesses daily, and these women-run businesses are growing every day.
  • Of these new businesses, 64% of them are women of color.
  • More than 11.6 million firms are owned by women (generating 1.7 trillion in sales) 2017
  • 5.4 million firms are majority-owned by women of color in the U.S., generating over $300 billion in annual revenue.

We narrowed down five women-owned restaurants (out of the many) in Atlanta that are a force to be reckoned with.

LottaFrutta

When Myrna Perez opened LottaFrutta in 2006, she wanted to infuse her Cuban culture with Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. This staple Latin restaurant has been in the community for the past fifteen years, and it’s a neighborhood favorite.

LottaFrutta serves fresh-cut fruit all day, smoothies, salads, and famously delicious Cuban-style sandwiches.

We recommend trying the Limonatta fresh fruit cup, which features Perez’s signature spicy chile guajillo. It is surprisingly spicy and an excellent combination of cantaloupes, pineapples, papaya and a sweet and spicy combo kick you never knew you needed.

Anna’s BBQ

This BBQ joint is everything we love in Atlanta food, and owner Anna Phelps is no rooky on the grill. Featuring classic items like smokey bbq ribs, mac and cheese, pulled pork, wings, and everything in between.

Since opening in 2013, Phelps has served southern-style meals in this cozy restaurant that feels like home with its warm and inviting comfort food. Anna’s was also voted Atlanta Magazines Best BBQ in 2019, which means these menu items are playing no games in the excellent food department.

Slutty Vegan ATL

This vegan food truck took Atlanta by storm when it opened in 2018. Pinky Cole has made a name for herself by creating a menu that gained a massive following in the ATL vegan community and is now a staple among vegan restaurants and black-owned restaurants. Her customers rave over the secret seasoning uses in her burgers which creates a Caribbean feel with a southern style twist.

To learn more about Pinky Cole, check out her interview with Forbes!

Slutty Vegan’s menu items are full of originals like their Super Slut, a plant-based patty loaded with guacamole, jalapenos, vegan cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and their signature Slut Sauce on a vegan Hawaiian bun.

Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours

Executive Chef Deborah VanTrece is putting her signature stamp on soul food and flavor with an elevated twist. After 25 years of experience, VanTrece opened Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours. It is now ranked highly among Atlanta restaurants and has been featured on the Cooking Channels Late Nite Eats and Genius Kitchen Carnivorous.

They serve a dinner and brunch menu, many highlights, but the specialty cocktails make their restaurant even more special. Their southern martini includes bacon-infused vodka, brown sugar, apple, sage, and Nux Alpina liquor.

Infusion Crab Atlanta 

Kimberly Knox opened Infusion Crab ATL to serve up what she calls “soulful seafood”. Centering her business around her and her 2 daughters McKenzie and Madison, they created their business centered around family. The three ladies have gained a large following for their family-oriented business that has a knack for making out of this world seafood entrees. 

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Marketing Restaurants Technology Trends

How To Use TikTok To Promote Your Restaurant

We have seen the latest social media trend TikTok everywhere, and it’s another social media marketing tool to use to promote your restaurant. This new app is a GAME CHANGER for restaurant owners, and there are so many incredible ways to let your followers know what’s going on. 

Here are some things we know about TikTok:

  • It has 100 million monthly active users in the U.S., with an 800% increase in users since 2018. 
  • It has 50 million daily users in the U.S. 
  • It has been downloaded over 2 billion times globally. 

Now, it’s time for your restaurant to tap into the new social media platform. Restaurants and other places of business have been using TikTok to grow their advertising and marketing through this outlet, specifically after the pandemic when TikTok grew rapidly. 

There are many cool features in TikTok that allow you to edit videos and share them with a wide range of people. Creators have access to effects, filters, and songs. 

Video is a great marketing tool for your brand and business, and this outlet allows even more content for you to share. TikTok provides user-friendly tools to create short videos. Every user could be a potential ambassador for your brand and spread messages and campaigns about your restaurant. 

Share Recipes and Ingredients 

Sharing recipes and making cooking videos is a great way to launch your restaurant’s TikTok page. It’s easy to make a video together to create a step-by-step way to make a recipe of your choice; these videos get TONS of likes, comments, and shares. 

Users on TikTok love food trends and it’s always something that’s trending on social networks. People love this type of content and hashtags like #food and #foodies will help give your video more views. There are currently over 116.2B views for #FOOD. 

#AtlantaFood is also a trendy hashtag considering all the great food options Atlanta is famous for. Check out Atlanta-based cook on TikTok justlex.x showcase her soul food video content that has some serious drool-worthy food clips. 

Tips and Tricks 

Try chef tips, like demonstrating and teaching fundamental skills like slicing and cutting techniques, or any other technique that can be useful when cooking. 

Here’s @cookingwithshereen on TikTok showing you how to cut grapefruit with her quick chef tips.  

Introduce Menu Items 

Your restaurant menu is continually updating and changing, and TikTok is an excellent way to showcase new or unique items. 

Chefs are Trending 

Showcasing your chef is the way to go. There are endless chef accounts; a good example is @maxthemeatguy, specializing in meats and creating video content to show off his skills. 

Collaborate with Influencers

Teaming up with social media influencers is the new way of promoting your restaurant and business social media profile. 

Reaching out to a younger audience is also a good reason to collaborate with TikTok influencers. Chipotle was the first major restaurant to launch on TikTok in 2019 and has had much success with gaining influencers to collaborate with. 

Dunkin Donuts followed the trend last October and has been promoting its new drink with influencer D’Amelio, who has more than 90 million followers on TikTok. The partnership promoted its new cold brew, which after marketing on TikTok, sales rose 20% the first day. 

Go Behind the Scenes 

Take your TikTok audience backstage and behind the scenes of restaurant operations. Giving people a look inside your team and kitchen makes it more personable and a mini-view of your restaurant’s inside. Making your customers feel they are included in something is crucial to create that relationship between owner and diners. 

Host a Live Event

It’s important to know that your TikTok account must have at least 1,000 followers to host a live event. Once you’re able to host live events, you’ll realize that it’s a great tool when marketing your brand. Having a class or a mini-lesson series is a fun way to create more content on your account, LIVE. 

Now that you have their attention they will search for the desired cuisine via ChowEasy. Make sure they can find you! Learn more about what ChowEasy can do to successfully market your restaurant.

Categories
Dine In Trends

VEGAN? Here Are The Best Options When Dining Out

Switching to a plant-based diet or vegan diet is a huge lifestyle change that alters your eating habits and the way you order out. Dining out with fewer options can be frustrating, but don’t worry, we have your back. There are things you can look for when eating out and ordering off a menu, and we’re here to suggest the best options for you. It’s important to note that getting creative in these instances will be the beginning of you getting more comfortable with your vegan lifestyle. Here are some options that might make things a little easier the next time you dine with friends and family. 

When ordering anything as a vegan, we must tell the people who are making our food. It’s obvious, I know, but sometimes you might think something is already vegan when in fact, it could have a broth or a marinade that contains meat or poultry. Places of business want to accommodate all your needs, and they want to create the best experience possible for their customers. Sometimes restaurants even have a vegan menu that’s not on their regular menu, but you won’t know unless you ask. 

We often see menus that include the “V” next to the dish description or a leaf icon. That will guide you to your best picks. 

Even when the menus aren’t all that vegan-friendly, it’s important to know that most things can be easily made vegetarian/vegan. There is no shame in asking for substitutions, and most of the time, they have options to accommodate you. If you see main dishes that aren’t necessarily vegan, look to the sides. Getting multiple side dishes will still satisfy you as well. 

There are tons of great apps and websites to help you find vegan-friendly restaurants near you. This can be great for travel or getting to know your local vegan places. 

Ok, so what restaurants have the best vegan options? 

Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants 

This one may seem obvious, but we don’t see many vegan/vegetarian restaurants, but there are more and more appearing every day the more common veganism has been becoming. 

Mexican

With Mexican food, it’s simple to eat vegan and not have to worry too much. You can change many traditional Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos, and fajitas, and there’s always a vegetable option. 

Be sure to ask for no sour cream or cheese, and sometimes dishes are made with chicken broth, so ask for substitutions. 

Even Mexican starters like salsa, guacamole with tortilla chips are vegan friendly, and veggie bean burritos taste heavenly. 

Thai 

Vegetable pad thai, veggie rolls, vegetable curry, and styles of rice dishes, Thai food is an excellent choice for vegans alike. These are easy cuisines for any vegan to enjoy, and Thai food has endless green options, tofu, and other plant-based foods. 

Just be sure to ask for no egg or fish sauces; most places can use a substitute.

Japanese

It’s surprisingly easy to find plant-based food when ordering Japanese cuisine. You have tons of options like edamame, veggie sushi rolls, fried tofu, vegetable tempura, and seaweed salads. Again, always let the restaurant know your vegan, so they don’t add any eggs, fish sauce, or dried fish flakes commonly used in Asian cuisines. 

Chinese 

That’s right! You can still enjoy your favorite Chinese food vegan style. Your options include vegetable spring rolls, veggie dumplings, soups, fried rice, and noodles. Chinese food has many options for vegans and plant-based dieters; make sure you let them know not to add in the egg, which is often used in Chinese dishes. 

Italian

Classic Italian food is another excellent option for non-meat-eaters and vegans. Italian cuisine includes bruschetta dishes, various salads, grilled artichokes, pasta, vegetable-style pizzas without cheese. When ordering vegan, it’s ok to get creative, and it’s ok to ask for your specific needs to be met. 

Make sure when ordering your salad you use dressings with a vinegar base and contain non-dairy options. 

You may not order the calamari, but you can always ask for them to fry up some zucchini or see if they have other vegetable replacements. 

Greek

Greek food is another excellent option for vegans, with a ton of platters to choose from. It’s often easy to find a Greek restaurant or diner nearby that has all the plant-based ingredients you’re looking for. That includes common Greek dishes like hummus, pita bread, Greek salads, grilled vegetables, and roasted eggplant. The greek food option is one of the healthiest, and most of their dishes provide protein and other nutrients your body loves. 

Greek salad is loaded with tomatoes, onions, olives, peppers, and cucumber; don’t forget to ask to hold the feta sprinkled on top. There are even options for different style wraps on the menu that can include vegetables and rice.  

BBQ or steak restaurants

Ok, this one sounds a little bizarre, but bbq and steak restaurants often have different vegan options. That is deep-fried pickles, french fries, vegetable chili, sweet potato fries, and even vegetables smothered in bbq sauce. 

Be cautious and ask for no cheese or butter often used in these dishes, and batters often contain buttermilk.

American

With traditional American food, you have your selection of vegan picks. The classics include french fries, onion rings, potato wedges, and most of the time, there’s a veggie burger option. There are also tons of sides to choose from, brussel sprouts, steamed spinach, mushrooms, baked potatoes with a little bit of olive oil, YUM! 

Middle Eastern 

One of the best parts about being vegan is that we get to try new things, and middle eastern restaurants have plenty of vegetable options on their menu. You have your choices of falafels, tahini, rice, pita, couscous, all available options for vegans. It’s often served with yogurt or cheese, so be sure to let them know you can do without. 

Ordering out doesn’t have to be a hassle when eating on a vegan diet. You don’t have to go to vegan-only restaurants or miss out on what your friends want to eat. 

Learn more about how ChowEasy can help you grow your dine-in business.

Categories
Trends

9 Restaurant Trends in 2021 You Must Know About

With all the resources available online, it’s fairly easy to forecast upcoming restaurant trends for the next year.

Enter 2020 and…well, you get the point.

In this post, we highlight some restaurant industry trends that are here to stay in 2021 and that have been catalyzed by the pandemic. Stick around till you reach the bottom of the page where we share our favorite restaurant adaptions brought on by the pandemic itself. Their genius!

How many of these are you thinking about applying to your own restaurant if you haven’t already?

Ghost Kitchens are Coming to Life

While ChowEasy advocates supporting restaurants through dine-in and caters to foodies who live for the dine-in experience, delivery is important. Delivery has soared so much in popularity that “ghost kitchens” have been given new life.

The use of ghost kitchens is a revolutionary trend in the restaurant delivery scene. Not to be mistaken with virtual kitchens, ghost kitchens do not require a brick-and-mortar location. Kitchen space is rented from landlords from facilities like Kitchen United or Cloud Kitchens. The space is then “occupied” by restaurant brands and orders are sent out from the kitchen. Customers order from 3rd-party apps like DoorDash and Grubhub.

Virtual kitchens usually consist of an exclusive delivery-only menu created by existing restaurants to expand their market.

Can existing restaurants use ghost kitchens? While the answer is yes, it depends. Ghost kitchens are still a new concept and is widely considered an unknown territory. It has been suggested that existing restaurants can greatly benefit but only if they have achieved stellar brand awareness.

Automation is Simplifying Lives

The restaurant industry, in general, is a bit slower to adopt technological advances compared to many industries. The benefits of automation to business operations are well understood however. Automation often allows more efficient operations and reduced costs over time.

Though we’d love to talk about robot servers, for practicality, we’ll just mention simpler modes of automation being widely used by restaurants:

Reservations

Some higher-end casual restaurants are still booking reservations. With limited indoor seating available, it can be a hassle to manage restaurant capacity.

Having reservations taken care of for you is sure to free up some time to focus on more urgent matters. There are many online booking services (i.e EatApp) that allow diners to reserve tables in real-time. Reduce phone call volume by automating reservations!

Delivery Automation

This one has been a game changer for countless restaurants during the pandemic. There are many apps and services that enable diners to order online and have the order sent directly to the restaurant’s POS system.

Kiosks

If you’re an avid reader of our blog, you probably know that we mention kiosks numerous times. Kiosks are a great way to automate orders in restaurants and kill waiting lines. Self-serve kiosks have been shown to increase upselling up to 47%.

With social distancing measures in effect, kiosks may help fast casual restaurants speed up traffic.

Read more about the benefits of kiosks in our blog post titled Increase Restaurant Sales by Taking Control in 2021.

Chatbots

Chatbots are underused by restaurants but the restaurants that have been using them have seen dramatic increases in efficiency.

Chatbots send automated messages to customer inquiries. They can answer general questions like open/close times, delivery/takeout options, and much more. Can you imagine how much time you will free up by having all mundane questions answered for you?

The power of Chatbots doesn’t stop there however. Restaurants have unlimited freedom with custom automated responses and can set them up practically anywhere online. Automated messages can be applied in emails, Facebook messages, texts, phone calls, and more.

Some chatbots can even recognize your most loyal customers and automatically send promos via text, email, or Facebook message.

Zero Waste Kitchens are Hip

By becoming a zero-waste kitchen, you not only attract diners that care about reducing greenhouse emissions, you also can save $7 for every $1 invested.

There are many services that allow restaurants to make better forecasts on food supply and sell their soon-to-be-expired food. Finding every opportunity to save is important in these times and will increase your bottom line significantly in the long-run.

Learn more about zero-waste technology available to all restaurants.

Our Favorite Restaurant Trends Born From the Pandemic

While the trends above were rising even before the pandemic, a few trends were directly started by it. Here are the ones that stood out to us the most:

Food Trucks

Some restaurants have adapted by opening up a food truck station in their parking lot. This was a smart move for numerous reasons.

Food trucks don’t have the same restrictions as dine-in spaces, creating a perfectly valid “loophole.” As people travel to and from work, they could easily spot the food truck for a quick bite.

Cook-it-Yourself Kits

Another creative adaption made by restaurants world wide are cook-it-yourself kits. Got a secret ingredient or special way of preparing pasta that can’t be replicated? Cook-it-yourself kits have had mass appeal for those who want to have a homemade meal from the restaurants they love.

Contactless Menus

Perhaps one of the most important trend to arise from the pandemic are contactless menus. Many restaurants now have QR codes that can be scanned via smartphone to pull up a digital menu.

Looking for a fun way to attract more dine-in customers? ChowEasy is a free app dedicated to helping restaurants get new, quality customers from the local area. Attract passionate foodies with promos that run on your schedule and on your terms with your restaurant name revealed only to committed diners. No upfront costs or commitments! Sign up here

Categories
Marketing Restaurants

Local Restaurant Promotions Guide: 12 Best Promo Ideas

Unsure about using restaurant promotions to attract customers to your local restaurant? That’s understandable considering you can lose a little in profits initially but the returns can open up streams of continued business over time.

Rest easy with this comprehensive restaurant promotional guide freshly updated with the 2020-2021 climate in mind.

First, let’s quickly go over some general pros and cons of offering restaurant promos.

Why Are Restaurant Promotions Important?

Restaurant promotions can be manifested in many forms but the end goal remains – to bring in more business. Additionally, restaurants create an opportunity to attract new guests and win them over as regulars. With a great overall experience, they may want to spread the word to their friends and family, doing wonders for brand awareness.

So why do promos work for getting new diners through the door? We’ll let the data speak for itself:

  • 30% of consumers will be swayed to try a new restaurant from their usual casual dining choices when presented with an attractive deal (Valassis)
  • 80% of diners are highly likely to consider a new restaurant if there is a deal (RetailMeNot)
  • 57% of millennials seek out restaurant coupons (Valassis)

These statistics show the psychology behind why they work and why restaurants successfully attract new customers with specials, all year round.

Even more of a reason to offer restaurant promotions is the active eco-system of coupons available on the internet. The internet is littered with coupons for just about anything and their convenience is pushing physical coupons to extinction. The expectation to find good deals online makes local restaurant promos an absolute necessity.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

If promos bring restaurants more business in the future, then the short-term loss from reduced prices becomes miniscule.

A concerning disadvantage however lies in the fact that online promos can be harder to regulate. Physical coupons are becoming less common as more promos are being distributed digitally. As a result, restaurants don’t know who sees their deals online and can’t restrict who grabs it in many cases.

The restaurant’s goal may be to attract a new customer but they can’t control it from getting into the hands of a long-time customer.

Additionally, offering too many promos can dilute a restaurant’s brand image by losing its value from being perceived as a “discounter.”

So to recap, the pros and cons of restaurant promotions are:

Pros and Cons of Restaurant Promotions

Solutions to Restaurant Promotion Limitations

Build real relationships with customers. Give them an amazing dine-in experience and have a loyalty program to give them a reason to come back.

Many restaurants are even launching their own apps for loyal diners to download. Having your own app will allow you to offer exclusive deals and send reminders through push notifications.

ChowEasy is also a solution that allows restaurants to attract new local diners with custom promos without the risk of looking like a “discounter”. With the ChowEasy app, restaurants anonymously enter a special deal on the app for local diners to bid on. Once the diner commits, the restaurant’s name is revealed.

Best Local Restaurant Promotion Ideas:

Don’t Let Events Go Wasted

Is your city hosting a big sports game? Is there a live show or major convention? Often times, big events like these bring tons of people from out of town and many are looking to dine at local restaurants.

Use these moments to your advantage by offering specials before the live concert, exclusive promos for ticket holders to a convention and many more. For example, 10% off for all season ticket holders.

Work with Influencers

Perhaps one of the currently top trending restaurant marketing strategies involve influencer marketing. Some local “foodies” have garnered unbelievable numbers of followers on their food blog or on Instagram.

A food blogger who runs their own Instagram page may visit your restaurant and take pictures. They will then post flattering photos of your food with an enticing caption for their thousands of followers to engage with.

Some food bloggers may mention your restaurant in a blog post that gets read by passionate enthusiasts of the cuisine you serve.

This is publicity at its finest without a huge budget. Often times, local restaurants will either pay an influencer or offer them a meal for free in exchange for a social media post or blog post.

Rewards for Gift Cards

Many restaurants during the 2020 lockdowns pushed gift card sales to stay afloat. After all, if a customer is a regular, they might as well spend more upfront and “save” their future meals for later.

To help boost restaurant gift card sales, restaurants started offering additional rewards with the purchase of the card.

Here is a short list of many examples we’ve seen:

  • Applebee’s – $50 gift card purchase gets you an extra $10
  • IHOP – $25 gift card gets you an additional $5 coupon
  • Joe’s Crab Shack – $25 gift card gets you a scratch-off ticket for a mystery prize
  • AMC Theaters – $30 in giftcard puchases gets you $5 in concession bucks

Restaurant Giveaways

You get a car, and you get a car! Okay, you may not have cars to give away like Oprah, but maybe you have a new bike you don’t use. Whether you choose to invest in a giveaway prize or giveaway something you own, giveaways can get people in the door.

Set up a raffle or a competition for the prize. Bonus tip: with raffle tickets, you can easily acquire email addresses and add them to your restaurant’s email list.

Time of the Day

Is lunch from 12-2pm or Mondays your notoriously slow times for dine-in traffic? Instead of offering different deals all the time, create a lunch special to bring in more traffic for a reduced price. If used right, this can be very effective to combat slow days.

Examples: Reduced prices on drinks on Wednesday nights, lunch specials

Seasonal Events

Seasonal events and holidays create a unique opportunity to make diners feel like they are missing out on a great deal. Since seasons and holidays quickly pass by, diners will want to take advantage of limited time deals before they miss out.

Cinco de Mayo is one such example where you can you offer Mexican beers at half the price. Diners are also likely to visit in groups for holiday specials and that’s always great for business.

Everyday is a Holiday

Did you know that January 25 is National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day? Many businesses use everyday holidays to plan their social media posts. If you haven’t checked out the holidays before, you’ll be surprised to see so many days dedicated to cuisine. Take advantage of this to come up with endless promo possibilities any time throughout the year. Check out nationday.com for inspiration and get creative!

Examples: National Pizza Day, National Gumbo Day, National Gluten-free day, National Buffet Day, Drink Wine Day, etc.

Local restaurant promotional discount during appreciation day or national holiday
Source: PDQ via Facebook

Happy Hour

Yes, this classic marketing term is still used by many restaurants today for it’s effectiveness. Offer discounts on alcoholic drinks, menu items, and free appetizers during strategic times in the day like right as people get off work.

Day of the Week Special

Offering specific deals based on the day of the week really does stay in the mind of consumers. Some classic examples include: margarita Monday and taco Tuesday. When old Joe is feeling indecisive and sitting at home on Tuesday night, he’ll remember that it happens to be taco Tuesday.

Here are some more catchy examples:

  • Meatloaf Monday
  • Tequila Tuesday
  • Wine Wednesday
  • Wing Wednesday
  • Waffle Wednesday
  • Thirsty Thursday
  • Stir-fry Friday
  • Fish’n Fries Friday
  • Spaghetti Saturday
  • Sandwich Sunday

Bundles

Offer combos that consist of appetizers, the main meal, side dishes, dessert and a drink for a reduced price.

Multi-Buy Promotions

Upsell by launching multi-buy promos like buy 1 get 1 free or buy 2 get 1 specials. For example, offer free soda with order of two large pizzas.

The incentive doesn’t always have to be free. You can offer something like $1 on draft beer for two orders of buffalo wings.

Now…Time to Maximize Profits From Promos

The purpose of offering restaurant promotions and discounts is to get more business in the end. Just because you’re offering deals doesn’t mean you have to act cheap.

Here are some ways to maximize profits from restaurant promotions:

Train Staff to Upsell, Upsell, and Upsell Some More

The reason why dine-in customers bring in the most profits for a restaurant is because of upsell potential. The customer may have walked in to get a burger with fries but maybe he/she orders an appetizer or dessert alongside it.

There are always upselling opportunities and guests need help deciding. Training servers to form the habit of consistently recommending menu items, combos, and drinks to customers could raise margins drastically.

Leverage Social Media

Share your promotions on social media for your dedicated fanbase to see. If they follow or like your restaurant page, they most certainly would love to see great deals come from you. They may even bring a friend who just might be your next loyal customer!

Build a Loyalty Program

Start a loyalty program if you don’t already have one. Let’s face it, not everybody who visits the first time through a promo will return. A loyalty program will help plant a seed for the diner’s next visit well after their first time.

Example: Starbucks loyalty program

Final Thoughts

As you can see, restaurant promos are an essential tool to attract customers and can be offered in many ways. If you have some promos in place or are at least thinking about it, good for you! This indicates that you are growth-focused and are planting opportunities that will yield more business over time.

If you would like an easy way to grow your local restaurant business, please consider the ChowEasy app. You can offer promotions to diners in your local area who are in the mood for the cuisine you serve. Unlike other deal sites with hefty costs and brand dilution, ChowEasy enables you to offer promos on your terms in as little as 60 seconds. Try it now!

Categories
Deals Marketing Restaurants Technology

The Real Cost of Using Groupon for Restaurants

Whether you are a consumer or business owner, you have likely heard of Groupon. Since 2011, Groupon.com has billed itself as a site for thrifty consumers that are looking for a great deal and merchants that want to drive traffic to their stores or build awareness for their brands. Many restaurants have jumped at the chance to offer promos to the site’s nearly 44 million active users. However, before you decide to enter the fray, make sure you know the real costs of using Groupon for restaurant promos. 

Groupon Restaurant Promotions Can Hurt Your Bottom Line 

Customers looking for a deal are likely to find one. But the cost to merchants can be staggering. While there is no cost for restaurants to create an account and share a deal with the Groupon user base, the real damage to the wallet arrives after you make a sale. Though commission rates do fluctuate, Groupon will always take at least 50% of revenue from each sale. Let’s look at this simple example: 

You run a local pizzeria and the business is doing fairly well. You’re interested in broadening your customer base and decide to give Groupon a try to see if you can get customers outside of the local area and maybe even tourists in town. You decide to offer a deal on your medium pepperoni pizzas, which typically cost $20, at a 40% discount to compete with other pizza shops on the site. Customers purchase the deal for $12. Your revenue? $6. 

restaurant promos like groupon diminish the hard work that chefs put in

This Groupon restaurant promo for pizza that you would typically sell for $20 just cost you 70% of revenue. You can calculate the profit yourself since this depends on your mark up, but it’s likely just shy of breaking even. Or, worse still, you might be losing money on the deal. 

The poor pizzaiolo or pizzaioli who put effort into making the delicious pie just had his/her work devalued so significantly. 

Groupon Can Diminish Your Restaurant’s Brand Image

restaurants that use groupon for restaurant promos look cheap

Have you ever visited a restaurant that markets itself like this? “We are a middle of the road eatery that uses discount produce and values quantity over quality. We don’t really care if you come back.” Ridiculous, right? You don’t need to be a marketing maven to recognize the pitfalls of discounting your product or service. By listing your restaurant on Groupon, you run the risk of diminishing your brand. Your high quality standards for service and food will not be recognized as such. The perception will turn to: how can it be that great when it’s so cheap? 

Let’s start with your existing customers. You run the risk of annoying your current clientele by offering your meals to a select few at a discount price. Using the example of the pizzeria, a repeat customer who consistently purchases your pies might wonder why they’ve been getting “ripped-off” this entire time if your food could be had for half the price. And if they knew that you were only taking home half of the revenue from the deal, they would sour on your brand even more. Sure, that’s unlikely, but all it takes is one annoyed customer and your break-even Groupon deal just sent a sure thing to your competitor. 

As for the prospective clients who found you through Groupon, you’ve now been introduced to them as a discount seller right from the start. Groupon customers are rarely repeat customers. Those on the site looking for a deal will look for another when your bargain window runs its course. “That $12 pizza was delicious, but I won’t pay the full $20. Let’s see what other pizza deals I can find.” 

people reaching for the best restaurant promo deal

When the goal of any business is to build sustainable revenue streams, and the cost of acquiring customers is much greater than keeping them, using Groupon to promote your restaurant becomes a brand risk you cannot afford to take. 

Can Groupon For Restaurants Be Beneficial at All? 

Many restaurants do not want to use groupon for restaurant promos

As with any strong marketing plan, diversity of channels is the key to success. The reality is that the pizza example is oversimplified and Groupon can be a part of your restaurant promo strategy. The two most important things to remember are to not put all of your marketing efforts into Groupon and to be smart about the bargain you are offering. Groupon clients are, more often than not, one-time clients and should not command a significant amount of your restaurant marketing spend. Yes, the math starts to make a lot more sense when the 40% discount is 20% or less, but investing in promotions for existing clients is even more cost-effective. Remember, too, that Groupon is not the only restaurant deal site that is out there. Be smart, do your research, and plan for long term success rather than short term marginal gains. 

Looking for a fun way to grow your restaurant business? ChowEasy is a restaurant marketing app that helps locals discover your restaurant by matching their appetite and mood. Get full control of your promos by offering them on YOUR schedule and YOUR terms with your restaurant name revealed ONLY to committed diners. No upfront costs or commitments! Learn more now.

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