Restaurants Uncategorized

Restaurant Soft Opening: Do It the Right Way

When opening the doors to your new restaurant, it’s important to explore all the ways you can build new customers and get them excited about your place. You want to get and get fresh faces in the door to explore your menu. 

That’s why hosting a soft opening could be an excellent option for your restaurant. Having a limited invite list will allow a smaller event to try menu items and drinks to see how the first experience will go, kind of like a showcase test run. 

While still facing COVID-19, restaurants around the country are preparing to reopen and applying a soft opening approach to control capacity and health safety concerns. This way, your customers feel more comfortable dining inside. 

A grand opening occurs on the actual day your restaurant opens to the public. Still, the soft opening will be the beta test before the official start. This is beneficial for you and your staff to ensure they have everything they need to be successful. Allowing guests to tell their friends and social media followers about their look inside your new restaurant before opening will get people excited for when you open.

Here are the steps to have a soft opening and do it the right way. 

Decide on the Menu 

The soft opening might be more obtainable if you consider offering select menu items to try. There’s less preparation to worry about when bringing items to the tables on a busy opening. There are a few factors to consider when creating your menu. Spotlighting dishes from the menu showcases the dishes you think are perfectly ready for review. Releasing a beta-style menu is a great way to improve some kinks you may want to work on. Displaying only a few items on the menu also lets your customers know more and return later to see updated additions to the full menu. You can host more than one soft opening event to feature different menu items you want to test. 

If you don’t, go the select menu route, and your grand opening is sooner than later. Having the full menu option gives you the ability to get feedback on all of your dishes before opening your doors completely.

Serving your entire menu at a soft opening will give you excellent feedback, there are some disadvantages. You need to be fully prepared to host a full menu soft opening, meaning all aspects of your restaurant’s menu must be ready.

Create the invitation 

The invitations you create for your soft opening should invite the guests to come and test how your restaurant runs. Depending on how extensive an invite list is, you can keep it casual or do something upscale. Choose something memorable and creative that will grab your guests’ attention. However you send the invite, make sure to include the date, time, address, menu pricing, RSVP date, and dress code if there is one. 

Be sure to also consider timing and capacity. Seeing how many people you can handle is different depending on the capacity and staff. Get used to a natural flow, and break up your guests into other time spots. 

Build the guest list 

Inviting guests can have a substantial impact on your restaurant’s success. Inviting familiar faces and family and friends makes them much more forgiving for anything that may go wrong during your soft opening. Those people can give you constructive criticism and offer insight during your test run. Just remind your friends and family to be honest. 

You can also build your guest list by contacting local business owners. Introducing yourself to local businesses can be a great way to introduce yourself to the community and build long-lasting relationships. Introducing your restaurant locally is a solid first impression for other business owners in the area. Building professional relationships with other community businesses is vital to your restaurant’s success. 

Adding community leaders and influencers to the guest list could benefit your soft opening. Prominent local leaders and community influencers will give you lots of pull within the community and generate a positive word-of-mouth promotion for your restaurant. Positive reviews will be critical early on to build your restaurant’s reputation. Be prepared to impress these leaders and influencers so they can give you those positive reviews. 

Feedback is essential 

By gathering feedback from your soft opening guests, you can make the improvements that are needed for your opening to the public. Gather your feedback in writing and ask guests to fill out a questionnaire at the end of their dining experience. Drop a feedback card with your guests check that way. You know everyone got the chance to fill one out. 

By fulfilling these steps, your soft opening is guaranteed to succeed. 

  • Prepare a menu you think will fit perfectly with your soft opening wants and needs. 
  • Evaluate how your seating arrangements and flow worked
  • See how your staff handled their knowledge of the menu and how they work together. 
  • Get the word out by having the local community there. 
  • Implement feedback and tweak anything that may need improvements. 

There are so many benefits to doing a soft opening, and it can give you the confidence boost your restaurant needs. Trust us; you’re going to want to take these steps and do it the right way. By doing so, you will have an advantage that will set you up for success first thing. You can attract new customers for your grand opening by downloading the ChowEasy App. Use it as another tool for your soft opening and grand opening launch to connect with local customers and restaurants. 


Restaurant Grand Opening: Ideas and Tips

Months and years of dreaming and planning have finally brought you to this moment. After years of stressful planning, you are finally ready to open up your restaurant to the world. You probably found this post after feeling overwhelmed by the pressure of exceeding expectations for your community, family, friends, and yourself. This just means you are caring about the right thing as making a killer first impression could make a world of difference in securing your first customer base and building off the momentum of this first wave. 

Even restaurant chain behemoths like Chick-fil-a take their grand openings seriously as seen with their First 100® Campout. Whenever a new Chick-fil-a franchise opens, customers camp out with tents in the parking lot to compete in becoming one of the first 100 customers for the prize of free chick-fil-a for the entire year. You don’t have to go to this extreme for your grand opening but it should show you just how much they’re valued. 

Invite Influencers 

Do you know a famous local influencer in your area like a well-known local politician, radio station personality, or pro/college athlete? Invite them to hang out at your grand opening and share on social media that they will be there. When it comes to influencers, your possibilities can go well beyond your local area. You can reach out to musicians, actors, and more. If you have trouble reaching some bigger influencers, you can start with local food critics, foodie influencers, or vloggers. 

Support a worthy cause 

Is there a cause that you feel strongly about? Fuse your passion for supporting a worthy cause with your restaurant grand opening and you’ll make the grand opening even more meaningful. You can even host charitable activities like a 5k walk or food drive. Partnering up with a local non-profit is a great way to build relationships with the local community. 

Big giveaways

If you can afford it, a big giveaway on the day of opening can bring a crowd. The prize needs to be big, however, such as a brand new car or a fully paid vacation. Not every restaurant will be able to do this. 

Offer Insane Deals 

The days leading up to the grand opening and a short duration afterward, pass out flyers with special coupons or mail them to close-by communities. Make sure they are redeemable for a short period of time within the grand opening. Not every restaurant has the budget to follow Chick-fil-a’s free meals for a year. Instead, most restaurants are going to want to focus on purchase-required deals such as a buy one get one deal or free appetizers. 

Provide a unique experience

So far, these promotions are pretty straightforward but don’t let that stop you from thinking outside the box. Are you able to provide a unique experience? Perhaps you’re going to cook the biggest burger in the world. If so, go for a Guinness world record and make a big publicity stunt out of it. Do you know a really skilled artist in your local area? Invite them to paint a giant mural for a live audience. The possibilities are endless.

Live entertainment

Know a local band? Ask them to play and add to the vibe. The music can travel beyond your restaurant walls and draw passersby to your doors.

Make it a party 

No matter what tips you decide to adopt or not, make the grand opening a party. Go all out with party decorations and make it an environment people don’t want to leave. If you have a parking lot, you can even set up a small carnival. 

Restaurant grand opening

Be sure to keep these ideas in mind for your restaurant’s grand opening. Too much pressure to make that one night a special one? Try starting multiple events and make it a grand opening week, or consider going for a soft opening.

While marketing your restaurant grand opening is crucial, you’re not going to realistically reach every single local foodie in your area. Continue attracting local foodies all throughout the year, on your schedule with ChowEasy.


Is Uber Eats Good for Restaurants? Get the Facts

In a time when 3rd party food delivery is at an all-time high, you might be wondering if you’re missing out.

Uber Eats is an online platform for online food ordering and delivery that was founded in 2014. Within the Uber Eats app, users can view the menu, read reviews, order, and pay. Users can then have the food delivered to their doorstep.

Believe it or not, the first online food ordering service ever was called World Wide Waiter (now, founded in 1995. The most popular food delivery apps today however are Uber Eats, GrubHub, and Doordash. Out of these options, Uber Eats is the most widely available, open in 6 continents, and has the highest gross orders in most countries.

So, is Uber Eats good for restaurants? Though the brand is well-known, what really matters is how the restaurants are doing.

Pros of using Uber Eats:

  • Great marketing strategy to get brand awareness among UberEats’ large customer base
  • Good for if your restaurant doesn’t already have a delivery service, including delivery vehicles
  • UberEats is well known so you get reputable brand association

Cons of using Uber Eats

  • Uber Eats infamously takes a heavy 30% or more in commissions
  • Revenue may increase but the profits turn out to be a lot smaller
  • 43% of people claimed to have used the delivery app as a substitute for dining in the restaurant, which they would have otherwise visited in person
  • Loss of guests who would have otherwise dined in, with plenty of upsell opportunities to maximize profits
  • No direct contact with customers and fewer chances of building customer loyalty
  • No control over customer experience

How does Uber Eats work?

  1. Customer opens app and orders from your restaurant
  2. Your restaurant accepts the order
  3. Customer tracks order progress on the Uber Eats app
  4. The restaurant fulfills the order and hands it off to the delivery partner
  5. The delivery partner then delivers the food to the customer
  6. The restaurant pays Uber Eats a commission for using their online ordering and delivery service

Uber Eats fees

Restaurants that partner with Uber Eats pay a marketplace fee of 15% to 30% depending on the plan. The plan varies depending on each restaurant’s needs but the fees cover operational costs such as payment processing, marketing, credit card services, and employee onboarding.

What if you decide to deliver on your own?

Restaurants that choose to use their own delivery service pay a 15% marketplace fee. If restaurants use Uber’s delivery service, the marketplace fee is 30%.

Do restaurants make money from Uber Eats?

So, do restaurants actually make money from Uber Eats? Restaurants actually lose money in the long run due to high commission costs that eat a large chunk of the profits.

Many well-known restaurant chains are shunning Uber Eats and Grubhub services. Jimmy Johns, Panera Bread, and Olive Garden are amongst these restaurants that refuse to use a 3rd party delivery company.

Along with profit losses, these restaurants refuse to work with third parties due to inconsistencies (i.e only some drivers have coolers) and longer delivery times. Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates, and DoorDash averaged 49 minutes to deliver an order according to studies by Boston Consulting Group. Long delivery times and having the food arrive cold has lead to many customer complaints, ruining customer experience. You can read about how this even negatively impacted fast-food behemoths like McDonald’s here.

Does Uber Eats help restaurants at all?

Despite the heavy costs for restaurants, Uber Eats can help get the restaurant’s name out there. Showing up on the Uber Eats platform can especially be a great way for new restaurants to quickly gain exposure to a large customer base.

As a long-term strategy, restaurants will lose a lot of money but whether this loss can be justfied, varies among restaurants. Traditional restaurants that are not tech savvy could quickly integrate an online and delivery system with Uber Eats. If you can reasonably afford your own delivery system (trucks, bikes, employee wages) you can reduce commissions you pay to Uber Eats but the math will look different for each restaurant.

At ChowEasy, we advocate acquiring dine-in customers because it’s more profitable for restaurants. With up-sell potential and the chance to connect with customers directly, dine-in offers something that delivery services can’t beat. Learn how the ChowEasy app can get you more dine-in customers.


80 Restaurant Marketing Ideas & Promos: Boost Sales

No need to open up endless tabs of articles to build a list of current restaurant marketing ideas. Here is a list of 80 proven and attainable marketing ideas to boost sales, available on one page!

With the rise of social media and technological developments, restaurant marketing has never been so broad. Here are dine-in, event, social media, and more types of promos, united under this umbrella term.

Promote Restaurant Online

1. Local directories

Remember Yellow Pages? There are hundreds of directories online that can list your restaurant. Updating directories with the correct phone, email, and address will help customers find you and improve Google search results.

2 . Google My Business

With more people searching restaurants on Google, your listing may be a diner’s first impression of you. What better way to promote for free by uploading attractive pictures, a compelling description, and contact info?

3. Update Yelp

Whether you like it or not, someone will create your Yelp page if you don’t. You might as well update it with the correct information.

4. Online reviews

86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses. A good review can bring more business without a single cost.

6.  Share cooking tips, guides

Teach your customers some valuable cooking tips on your website or create a guide. Be more than a restaurant, but also showcase your  expertise in your industry. 

7. Press releases 

Write or hire someone to write and get the word out about any restaurant news, premiers, or events.

8. Blog posts

Update your website with blog posts hitting on topics that will interest your ideal customers or what potential customers are looking for. Share stories about your staff, fun events, or your stance on the environment. Communicate your story and connect on a more personal level.

9. Email newsletters

Email is not dead! In fact, 80% of business professionals believe email marketing increases customer retention. Send newsletters, deals, holiday specials, events and more through email to keep your restaurant in your customer’s heads!

10. Restaurant promos

90% of consumers use coupons in some way. Offer promos as a marketing tactic to entice customers to try out your restaurant!

Learn more about the importance of restaurant promotions in our guide.

11.  SMS

Text marketing is also growing. Easily send mass text reminders about specials, events, or to ask for feedback.

12. Delivery apps

For better or worse, 3rd party delivery is likely here to stay. At least having it as an option will get you exposure to delivery app users looking for restaurants to order from.

13. Paid media promotion

If you have a dish,  activities, or niche that get highly searched and you have a decent budget for trial and error, paid ads may be a good way to reach the right potential customers. 

14. Geofencing advertising

Geo Targeted ads can allow restaurants to set virtual perimeters in which their ad will show across mobile devices within the set boundaries.

Social Media Marketing for Restaurants

15.  Food pictures 

Pictures of food are still popular on social media feeds! What better way to get free marketing by having someone scroll and eat your food through their eyes first?

16. Social media giveaways

Running contests for a free giveaway is a great way to get people to share your post and increase brand awareness on social media! You can ask people to like/follow your restaurant page and draw a random winner.

17. Influencers

Foodie influencers on Instagram can have massive numbers of followers. Offer them a free meal at your restaurant in exchange for a social post where they feature your restaurant to thousands of foodies!

Learn more about restaurant influencers.

18. Bribes for likes

Motivate people to ‘like’ or comment on a post by offering to draw a lucky winner for a discounted meal or free dessert. 

19. Check-ins online

Ask customers to ‘check-in’ at your restaurant on Facebook. It shows their friends that they actively use and enjoy your service/food. Free brand endorsement and awareness in one action!

20. Ask for page follows

Ask satisfied customers to follow your page on Facebook or Instagram. That way, you have the opportunity to keep in touch with them through any updates. 

21. Show off staff 

Business and online transparency is becoming increasingly important. Show off the warm, welcoming faces of your staff on social media for people to connect with. 

22. Hashtags

Get found for free with hashtags on your social media posts! You can have up to 30 for each post and get discovered in specific circles. For example, you can share a vegan dish with vegans using the hashtag #veganlovers

23. Behind-the-scenes

Again, transparency is more important than ever! Show behind the scenes footage of your cooking process or day in the life of your restaurant staff to connect with audiences.

24. Themed content 

Does your restaurant have a Greek, Outdoorsy, jazz, safari, or any other distinct theme? If yes, then content ideas are  endless! Share news, fun facts, memes, videos or anything else that’s interesting and relevant to your theme.

25.  Share helpful articles

Do your customers fit a certain mold or belong to a subculture? Sharing articles and resources on social media that appeal to them can help maintain customer relationships.

26. Social media holidays 

Running out of ideas for social content? The good news is every day is a holiday! There are many social media calendars online that you can use to plan promotional events and more. For example, you can offer a gumbo special on gumbo appreciation day or teachers discount on teachers appreciation day.

Dine-In Promotion Ideas

27. Pet-friendly, pet menu

Animal cafes are booming! Animal cafes like dog cafes, is where people can interact with animals while eating or drinking. Allow people to bring their dogs and have dog treats in stock. People love their pets and love others who love their pets too!

28. Business card fishbowl

Old but gold. Ask guests to drop their business card in a container to enter into a raffle for a prize. Promote it online to encourage dine-in visits. You can also use the contact info from cards to add to your email list. 

29. Seasonal dishes

Pumpkin-infused everything and eggnog. Take advantage of season changes and offer vegetables and fruits that are most ripe in that season for a limited time!

30. Day of the week specials

Come up with catchy everyday specials that stick in the customers head. Example include: Taco Tuesday, Wine Wednesday, Wing Wednesday, and Fish’n Fries Friday. 

31. Lunch specials

Lunch hour, typically from 12 – 1 pm, is the time when employees take a break from work and many go out for a quick bite. Leverage this hour by offering lunch specials to attract them.

32. Time of the day promos

You don’t have to only offer lunch specials. Are Wednesday nights your generally slow days? Try offering reduced prices on certain drinks on Wednesdays.

33. Happy hour

Classic marketing term. Offer reduced prices on drinks, menu items, or free appetizers. Plan them on strategic times like when everyone gets off work. 

34. Multi-buy specials

Upsell with multi-buy promos like buy 1 get 1 or buy 2 get 1. For example: buy two orders of buffalo wings and get 1 beer. 

35. Combos

Upsell through combo meals such as a drink and appetizer with the main course. The combo rewards them savings as they buy more.

40. Entertainment

T.Vs with changeable channels, arcade games, ping pong tables, and pool tables can sometimes be the deciding factor for people who want to hangout as they dine.

41. Dance party

People love to dance! Plan salsa, swing, or square dance nights or have a dance floor open every weekend accompanied with a good DJ. 

42. Celebrities

Have a local celebrity that you can convince to tend the bar for the night? You can even tie in a theme that represents a new film production they are in.

43. Celebrity chefs

Invite a guest chef to come in and serve up some new dishes for the evening. Celebrity chefs can bring in huge crowds!

44. Overdeliver service

Give the best possible customer service and it speaks volumes about your restaurant brand. Guests will associate your restaurant with warm, welcoming feelings that they’ll want to feel again.

45. Speedy service

People seem to be getting busier. If you have fast service or use self-service kiosks you can appeal to busy people by marketing your restaurant’s speedy service.

46. Don’t be afraid to be weird

Don’t be afraid to be unique and stand out! Market unusual features that will draw attention like green ketchup, bacon-wrapped oreos, or maybe ask people to come talk to your bartender with a wooden eye. 

47. ‘Instagrammable’ interior

In addition to food pictures, an aesthetic or fun interior design also make for great social posts that get shared and discovered by new eyes.

48. Remodel outside sign

Many restaurants still have an old beat up sign from 20+ years ago. Invest in getting an updated sign to bring a sense of newness and overcome the “old restaurant in the corner” image.

49. Give samples in front

Cut up bits of a main course or side dish and offer them to passerbys as samples. You might just get them hooked and reel them in!

50. Play music outside

Invest in some outside speakers and play music to create a more welcoming presence at the front door.

51. Loyalty program

Set up a loyalty program to give customers an incentive to keep coming back. For example: points are earned for every Chipotle order an can accumulate into a free entree.

52. Mug club

If you have a bar, you can start a mug club. Mug clubs are memberships that offer members free gifts, discounts, special offers, and more after paying a membership fee. Design a special mug for members and watch people bring in their friends.

53. Other memberships

If applicable, you may be able to start members-only clubs like a book club or other activities like chess, trivia, pool, and more. 

Restaurant Event Ideas

54. Themed events

Halloween, Christmas, 80’s, and Mardi Gras or Hawaiin Luah. People enjoy dressing up and being something else for a night. 

55. Live music

Many people will choose to go to a restaurant if there is live music. Invite solo artists or bands to play. With performances scheduled in advance, you can send reminders to your current guests about artists they would like to see.

56. Open mic night

Karaoke night, open jam nights, stand up comedy, or spoken word is likely to help bring a consistent crowd weekly. 

57. Game nights

Bingo, trivia, or poker nights also draw in regulars who are looking to fill in their evening hours around familiar and new people.

Ethical & Healthy Restaurant Image Ideas

54. Farm-to-table

Farm-to-table is a social movement to source produce from local farms directly. Marketing your ingredients as farm-to-table will earn your restaurant points as a supporter of local farms and your community.

55. Food waste 

Food waste is a massive problem that is garnering more and more action. Implementing best practices to eliminate food waste will earn respect in your customers’ eyes. There are also food waste apps that help you sell soon-to-be-expired food at a discount.

56. Health Trends

Keto, whole30, paleo, vegan, and more. These lifestyle trends have become more normalized and less of a fad. Having meals that meet the criteria of these diets will help you accommodate more lifestyles. 

Local Marketing Ideas

57. Be proudly local

Your restaurant is more than just a place to eat, it’s a part of a community and adds to the local flavor. Be proud in branding yourself local and neighboring customers will want to support.

58. Community involvement

Connect with locals in your community by supporting local fundraisers, joining tasting events for charity, or sponsoring school sports teams. Your restaurant will get exposure while building truly genuine relationships.

59. Join chamber of commerce

Joining the chamber of commerce may be a good idea for certain restaurants. Many chambers have access to a large audience and can host numerous events throughout the year for your restaurant to participate in.

60. Local media

Have a story that local media might want to report? Get the local news station, newspaper, or radio to meet you pitch a story that will get your restaurant exposure.

61. Support a local cause

Show your empathy for your community by partnering up with nonprofits or charities. Maybe there’s a fire or hurricane that occurred in your area. Look at the pain points of your community and respond.  

62. Sponsor a local sports team

If your city is home to a sports team, sponsor them and have your restaurant brand associated  with the team.

Restaurant Branding Ideas

63. Merch store

Your restaurant is a brand so why not sell merch products with your restaurant name on it? T-shirts, mugs, aprons, and your signature bbq sauce are just a few of many possibilities. Plus with apparel, customers are billboards.

64. Show off quality

The quality shown in food preparation, ingredients, all the way down to social media posts will help brand your restaurant as quality. Little things done with care can make a huge impact.

65. Benefits > features

When creating campaigns or menu descriptions try highlighting benefits to be more memorable. For example, describing the tenderness, melting in the mouth, or taste that will remind them of a specific place. 

66. Tell your story

Humans have been telling stories since the earliest civilizations. Was your secret seasoning discovered by accident? Is your restaurant a family legacy spanning generations? If you have an interesting story, share it and connect with people!

67. Cook for marketing buzz

If you have an outrageous looking dish that never fails to get attention, you can share it online and hope that it goes viral!

New Restaurant Promo Ideas

68. Food truck

Make your restaurant mobile and expand anywhere without renting new space. Food trucks make effective moving billboards while driving to various locations.

69. Cook-it-yourself kits

Package ingredients and cooking instructions for your popular meals. Customers will love them and share it with friends/family, getting your meals exposed in the process!

Restaurant Event Marketing

70. Get creative with present

Notice anything unusual happening in your area? Maybe you can leverage it to come up with a spontaneous promo. Example: Discount on hot beverages during an unexpected blizzard

71. Nearby concert

Is Taylor Swift performing in your city? Leverage this by offering discounts to ticket holders! There will be many people before and after the show looking to catch a quick bite!

72. Events/conventions

There are probably countless events such as conventions and trade shows hosted in your area. Conventions like Comic-Con bring thousands of out-of-state visitors alone so why not leverage this and promote discounts to convention goers? 

Make Friends

73. Free food to surrounding businesses

How many businesses is your restaurant surrounded by? Neighboring businesses have great potential to become your  lunch-time regulars. Drop off some samples or free meals to local businesses and make a first impression that will bring returns!

74. Collaborate with restaurants

A high tide raises all ships, the saying goes. Likewise, collaborating with other restaurants on an event or program will bring greater exposure. 

Be Online-User Friendly

75. Online reservations

There are many services that enable  seamless online reservations to your restaurant, showing table availability in real-time. Wine and dine restaurants can increase their sales rate by making reservations easy. 

76. Chatbots

Chatbots are spiking in popularity because they can automate answers to general inquiries online, freeing your time up. Chatbots can boost sales by directing customers to menu specials, delivery options, and more.

77. Online menu

More and more people are checking online menus before making a final decision on a restaurant. Give people the option to check your menu on your website but make sure you have enticing descriptions and mouth-savoring pictures to go  along with it!

78. Update Google listing

With so many people finding restaurants on Google, it’s imperative to keep your listing updated. Make sure it shows the correct services available such as dine-in, delivery, or takeaway. You can even add your menu and dishes for easy viewing.

79. Optimize website for SEO

Page speed, keywords, blogs, image sizes, sitemaps, and more all add up to how well you rank in search engines. Invest some time into optimizing  your website for search and remember to periodically update it.

80. Online order/pickup

Since Covid-19, online ordering and pickup has surged. As a result, adopting  a pickup and online ordering component can help bring in extra sales.

Looking for a fun way to get more dine-in customers? ChowEasy is a platform 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! Learn more now


Restaurant Customer Service Guide: Dine-In and Online

In a world with endless options, businesses and restaurants face the commodity trap. In other words, it is getting harder to be different and stand out among other businesses in the same industry.

Uniqueness is a major factor in why loyal diners come back to the same restaurant despite the options out there.

The good news is there is a way any restaurant can stand out today and it can cost little to nothing.

Where automation and self-service are increasing, genuine customer service becomes a rare commodity. Restaurants may overlook investing in customer service because it’s hard to measure the results but giving an unforgettable customer experience will set restaurants apart.

Still wondering if it’s worth it to invest time and energy in customer service? Here are some noteworthy statistics:

  • Businesses that focus on customer experience drive revenue 4-8% higher than their competitors
  • 81% of businesses view excellent customer service as a way to stand out
  • 84% of businesses that improve their customer service see an increase in revenue

Ready to be a superhero in restaurant service? Read on for an overview of restaurant etiquette basics and tips for delivering customer service with technology and in the online world.

Restaurant customer service for dine-in

Dine-in is an opportunity for restaurants to shine through customer service. The best service is given through the mindset of giving the customer assistance and being their advisor.

Diners won’t know what to expect in a new restaurant and don’t know what to order. Approaching customer service through the lens of advising and creating an experience, may help.

Greet customers and make them feel welcomed

Making a great first impression counts. This is a very crucial step as the moment a guest walks in, they instantly come up with an impression.

As soon as a guest walks in, acknowledge them. Make eye contact and greet them, using titles like sir or ma’am. There’s nothing worse than making the guest feel unimportant the minute they walk in. Even if in the middle of something, a restaurant worker should at least give an acknowledgment like “I’ll be with you in a moment!”

Have smooth etiquette

The first impression is only the beginning of the work. After creating a warm first impression, the momentum should continue.

Restaurant servers should remember to check on their table periodically to make sure drinks are refilled and plates are cleared.

When taking orders, repeat the order back to the guest and ask any questions to make sure the order is correct.

When bringing out the plates, it’s best to remember who ordered what instead of calling out “shrimp po’ boy!” Since it can be hard to remember, having a system in place can help.

Finally, bring the check in a timely manner while thanking the guests and never create the impression of rushing them out.

Serve as a guide and advisor

While some new diners may know what they want, some will have a harder time navigating a new menu. They may be in the mood for a burger but can’t decide among the 12 options.

This is where the restaurant server steps in the role of a guide and advisor. The key is to ask questions. If the customer can’t decide, ask questions that will help eliminate options and narrow down their choice. Customers may already have a bunch of questions so knowing the menu fluently will help serve the customer.

In many cases, customers of any business are indecisive for the most part and are open to suggestions. Serve guests as their guide and they will be thankful for it.

How to talk to customers

Set tonal guidelines

Tonality is extremely important when talking with customers but since it’s on a spectrum, it can vary.

For example, “is that all?” and “is there anything else I can help you with?” both have the same meaning but are completely different. The former can make the server sound annoyed with the customer’s demand while the ladder sounds more genuine.

Overall, the tone should be professional yet friendly at the same time. To dial into this “sweet spot” restaurant owners/managers should come up with a standard tone of voice and train employees to speak within this space.

Focus on what you can do

Customers would rather hear about what you will do rather than what you can’t do. Even if a customer can’t be immediately helped, your answer should be an attempt to fix the problem.

For example:

  • “Great question. Let me go find out for you” instead of “I don’t know.”
  • “I’m sorry, we just ran out but I recommend these great alternatives” instead of “We’re out of that.”
  • “I’ll be right with you” instead of “I’m busy right now.”

Restaurant customer service online

Customer service online is just as important as dine-in customer service. With endless options available at the fingertips, speedy and convenient online service could make or break dining plans at your restaurant.


With the flood of messages coming in, chatbots have been helping by taking on the load. When customers message restaurants on their Facebook page, a delayed response that’s even 2 minutes short, could cost business. Set up chatbots on social media and the website to answer generic questions like “what time are you open on Saturday?” Even if customers are talking to a bot, if answered promptly and accurately, you win restaurant customer service points.

Reservation tech

For restaurants that are heavy on reservations, online reservation software or systems can help automate the process. Eliminating long wait times and missed phone calls can make it more convenient for customers to make reservations.

Google and Yelp reviews

Free online listings are double-edged swords. New customers can discover you, but you’re also open to receiving negative comments for the world to see. What can be done about complaints and 1-star reviews?

Unfortunately, it can be close to impossible to get negative feedback removed unless it violates policy. Fortunately, it provides an opportunity to showcase excellent customer service and care. Make sure to reply to negative reviews ASAP and apologize even if the customer is being unreasonable. After apologizing, provide a phone number or email to escalate the complaint. Always keep it professional and never call out what the customer did wrong. Then hope the customer changes or deletes the comment, although this is not a guarantee.

Update Google listing

Update your restaurant’s Google listing to make sure it’s providing information that customers need. Give customers a better experience by ensuring that the phone number, email, and website are all correct. Also (more recently due to Covid-19) make sure your restaurant’s Google listing accurately showcases takeout, delivery, and dine-in options.

Looking for a fun way to get more dine-in customers? ChowEasy is a platform 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! Learn more now


Instabids: What It Is and How It Compares

Paper Coupon Cutouts Are Dead

The days of cutting out coupons from local newspapers are long gone. What else will become obsolete before we even know it?

It was only around two decades ago (circa 1995) that digitally printed coupons from your computer were all the craze. This trend has had its run but coupons are still used by 85% of Americans according to So how are people getting coupons?

Today, the hottest way of acquiring coupons is completely digital. 73% of American consumers are using paperless coupons according to Valassis and digital coupon redemption is projected to grow to $91 billion by 2022.

It’s safe to say that we’re in the golden era of digital coupons.

Promos and Deals Are Expected

Coupons and deals have had some connotations tied to it – that they’re used by cheap consumers or the product/service has been devalued. This is no longer the case today. Deals and promos are everywhere, making them a requisite for competing against the endless options available.

Millennials and Gen Z are also making smarter investments and being more careful with spending. While there is the occasional reckless spender, a great number fit in as part of the “money conscious generation.” Finding a deal has become an ingrained habit of Millennials and Gen Z, who shared a total spending power of $3 trillion in 2020.

And if you imagined Covid-19 further encouraging extreme money spending habits, you’d be correct. 81% of Millennial parents have increased their saving habits since Covid-19 according to Valassis.

The Rise of Restaurant Promo Apps

It’s no question that restaurants can capitalize on the rising mobile coupon market.

Out of all active coupon users, 57% use them for restaurants. Additionally, 49.2% of all redeemed coupons, in general, are food-related.

Restaurant promo apps aim to replace archaic restaurant coupon cutouts from magazines and newspapers. They create a platform for restaurants and foodies to connect without huge commission costs eating away profits like Groupon does.

These platforms use a bidding-style system where diners get customized deals and restaurants get extra business (unlike coupons that offer the same deal to everyone).

Instabids vs. ChowEasy

The core of these two apps is the same in that they are bidding platforms for restaurant-goers and restaurants. Restaurant-goers save money with great deals and restaurants earn the extra business. You choose the type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, your location, and hope for a personalized bid.

It’s how they implement their bidding system that makes these two apps different.

Instabids allows diners to select 2-5 restaurants that they would like to request bids from. The chosen restaurants then get 9 minutes to begin offering discounts. After the bidding window of 9 minutes is up, the highest discount offered wins, and Instabids sends it to the diner.

ChowEasy allows diners to choose a restaurant genre and enter an amount they are willing to spend. ChowEasy then instantly matches this amount with restaurants that are willing to accept the bid. The name of the restaurant is revealed when the diner gets a match. Diners get to save money and discover a new restaurant. Restaurants get local support and don’t have to worry about being placed in an “open coupon list” that brands them as a “discounter.”

Restaurants can join ChowEasy for free and boost business by capitalizing on the mobile coupon craze without diminishing their brand as a discount restaurant.


Effective Digital Marketing for Restaurants in 2021

It’s no secret that online marketing is critical for restaurant success in today’s age.

Has marketing for restaurants changed at all?

You bet. The digital landscape is always growing which inevitably brings many changes.

Increased competition and frequent updates of services like Google My Business or Yelp require all businesses to constantly revisit their strategy.

Continue reading to help plan out your marketing strategy for 2021!

Social Media

Social media is still an incredible free marketing tool for restaurants to utilize for 2021. Can you name a better way to get in front of new potential customers for free?

The Instagram trend of foodies posting photos of their food is still going strong. Continue providing meals that look as good as they taste and watch them get in front of a fresh new pair of eyes.

You don’t always have to wait for customers to post however. You can do it yourself too! Invest time into presentation such as lighting, color, and the surrounding environment because restaurants are heavily judged by the quality of their pictures more than ever.

Content is key. By posting more frequently, you increase your chances of getting discovered. Here are some ideas for content:

  • Pictures of aesthetic dishes
  • Seasonal specials
  • Promotional campaigns
  • Pictures of employees
  • “Behind the scenes” cooking photos (promotes transparency)
  • Holiday posts (A burger joint may post something on National Hamburger Day and use the hashtag #Nationalhamburgerday. View daily holidays here)
  • Restaurant theme posts (ex. A Greek restaurant that posts random facts about Ancient Greece)

Add hashtags to each post to get discovered by new users. Hashtags have been shown to increase engagement by 12.6%! The max hashtags that can be used on Instagram are 30 for posts and 10 for stories. Some recommend using less while some say to use more. Experiment with the number of hashtags to see which amount gives the best results.

Finally, free up your time to focus on the important things by automating posts. Spending a few hours within 1 or 2 days to plan and schedule social posts for the next 2 weeks or month can save you from the headache of coming up with last-minute ideas.

There is an abundance of services for this such as Buffer and Hootsuite.

Google My Business

Yelp has become less relevant today due to the popularity of Google My Business listings. With Google My Business, restaurants can easily showcase their hours, photos, services, contact information, website link, and more.

With recent updates, diners can now make online reservations from a Google My Business listing. Restaurants can also show whether they are available for takeout, dine-in, delivery, or all.

Spend quality time adding and updating information on your Google My Business listing to keep customers informed.

Email Marketing

Email is not dead! In fact, it is still one of the most cost-effective methods for increasing restaurant sales and building customer loyalty.

Today, many CRM (customer relationship management) software enable businesses to send out automated emails. Some CRMs can automatically send custom promos to customers based on the frequency of visits. This makes it seamless to reward your most loyal customers with the best rewards.

You can also touch base with customers by sending regular holiday emails, birthday greetings, and newsletters.

Local Google Search (SEO)

How would you feel if a new local diner found your restaurant on Google? Getting new business without being the one to reach out first is every business’ dream.

An estimated 6.2 million people search for “restaurants near me” on Google each month.

Organically ranking on Google takes time and is competitive. Google’s search algorithm however is always changing so if you consistently work to optimize for it, you will get rewarded in the long-run.

This topic is too deep to mention here briefly. If you want to learn how to boost your chances of being found on Google, read this.

Online Advertisments

Online ads can be expensive but returns can be well worth it. To run successful ad campaigns, restaurants will need to have 3 things in check: targeting, ad creative, and the offer.

Businesses that run online ads (via Google, Facebook, or Instagram) can create custom demographics to show their ad to. For example, a restaurant can create an ad for parents aged 40-60 who are interested in healthy eating.

Along with creating the ideal target demographic, the ad should captivate attention and have an enticing offer. That being said, ads require constant testing to find what yields the best results.


Ah…the dreaded customer review. Nothing can quite make or break a business like a customer’s personal experience visible for everyone to read.

93% of customers will read local business reviews to determine it’s quality which makes receiving positive feedback a priority.

Be intentional about asking loyal customers to leave a review to help out your restaurant. If they love your restaurant, they will be more than happy to show their support.

Did you know that reviews can even help with organic google searches? Restaurants with 5-star ratings receive higher rankings and written reviews can associate your restaurant with relevant keywords. For example, a customer can mention your extensive vegan-friendly options and help you get discovered by vegans.

Bad reviews are bound to appear every now and then. You can request removal for reviews if they go against policy. If they don’t violate policy, the best thing to do is respond. Apologize and offer to rectify the problem by providing a customer support number. Never blame the customer. Others will see how you handled the bad review and it may alter their final judgement.


The influencer marketing industry was expected to reach $10 billion by 2020 from $2 billion in 2017. Many businesses and marketers have recognized the trust that consumers have in influencers and jumped on the bandwagon.

In the restaurant scene, there are many Instagram food influencers with thousands upon thousands of followers. Restaurants frequently offer them a free meal and in return, the influencer will usually share photos on their profile. This introduces the restaurant to thousands of new people.


Finally, restaurants should focus on improving their branding. Reinforce your restaurant in people’s minds with strong consistent branding.

Invest the time to create a theme around your social media posts with consistent brand colors, fonts, and messaging (ex. slogans).

Effective marketing for restaurants occurs offline too. You can launch restaurant merch with your logo to spread brand awareness. Some examples include: t-shirts, hats, aprons, cook books, and cups.

Looking for a fun way to get more dine-in customers? ChowEasy is a platform 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! Learn more now


Increase Restaurant Sales by Taking Control in 2021

We’ve got the secrets to increasing restaurants sales in 2021. Even with the plethora of restaurant industry insights available, no one anticipated the sudden changes.

As you know, there has been a boom in 3rd party delivery since more and more people are keeping distance by going online. This means that more than ever, restaurants will have to take control of their online reach to boost their business.

Truth is, 3rd party delivery companies have so much power online that some restaurants can no longer be found without them. This has contributed to the rise of “Ghost Kitchens.”

Here is a list of recommended technologies to help restaurants become more self-dependent with getting new customers and maximizing profits.


Think the benefits of speed and convenience are only reserved for online services? Guess again. Kiosks are extremely helpful in making the restaurant dine-in experience smooth.

Self-service kiosks make it easy for anyone to quickly order what they want, reducing or even eliminating long waiting lines.

Not only do they make things more convenient, they also make it easy to display promotions and extra ordering options. It has been shown that this encourages diners to spend more and makes upselling 47% more likely.

What better way to maximize profit potential by accommodating mostly everyones’ (especially Gen Z) daily habit of interacting with screens?

Your Very Own Restaurant App

It seems like everyone and their own dog has an app these days because there’s an app for almost anything. So why can’t restaurants have their own app?

Here are some amazing possibilities that arise from having your own app:

  1. Offer exclusive deals and promos
  2. Create a loyalty program (build reward points)
  3. Easy touch-based ordering
  4. Listing other locations
  5. Sending push notifications on promos/updates

Several restaurants already have their own app and this trend is expected to soar throughout 2021. Many app users order food through 3rd party delivery apps, so why wouldn’t a loyal customer download your app?

In-House Delivery/Online Ordering

If you don’t want to invest the time in hiring a developer to create your app for online ordering, no problem! There are services that allow restaurants to instantly set up their own online ordering platform without the headache.

Incentivio is a cloud-based platform that allows restaurants to set up their own apps and websites for online ordering. Their fully integrated system makes it super easy to track takeout and online orders with ultimate flexibility.

Websites or apps that are created through them are white labeled so customers won’t even know you are using a 3rd party. Customers are made out to be the restaurant’s customers instead of the company’s.

ChowNow is another online platform that allows restaurants to take control of their own delivery and takeout.

Increase Dine-In Sales

Alongside the endless options for delivery and online ordering, what if there was a way to attract new dine-in customers anytime?

ChowEasy is a restaurant marketing platform that allows restaurants to attract new customers by offering promos. The restaurant name is then revealed when a user wins the promo.

This way, the restaurant can avoid being associated as a “discounter” and can effectively help new, loyal customers discover them.

There will always be a massive audience of restaurant-goers who live to experience new local restaurants. Find out why dining in restaurants will always beat delivery here.

Social Media Marketing

Like mentioned earlier, online searches for restaurants have increased since the pandemic. This makes it paramount for restaurants to take better control of their online marketing strategy.

How many times does your restaurant get discovered through a third party company like GrubHub or Yelp? Though this is great, restaurants can become too dependent on these companies for their online reach.

The best way restaurants can secure the future of their online presence and reputation is to start building it now. Learn how local restaurants can boost their chance of being found on Google.

Posts on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok can reach thousands of restaurant goers and spread awareness of your brand. It may take some time to build up an audience but once there, restaurants can have better control of communicating with their loyal customers.

Apps like Buffer and Hootsuite allow businesses to automate their marketing with pre-scheduled posts. This allows busy restaurants to spend time on planning posts beforehand so they can save time moving forward.


3 Restaurant Technology Trends in 2021

In a world where everything is being replaced with technology, it seems like there is an electronic solution to almost anything. It creates a new problem in itself, which may formulate as the question: “How do I choose the right technology for my restaurant?”

Fear not, for we have simplified your options based on 3 highly-relevant restaurant trends that are sticking to the pan throughout 2021.

These 3 restaurant technology trends are based on 3 key issues restaurants are currently facing: waste management, online ordering, and POS flexibility. So without further ado, continue reading to see the technological solutions that correspond to these issues.

Waste Management

Plastic straw alternatives and biodegradable takeout boxes were only to the stepping stones to the sustainable restaurant movement. Zero-waste kitchens are now the thing and will normalize over the next few years.

If you aren’t familiar with this term, zero-waste kitchens essentially aim to eliminate trash taken to the landfill. The concept stems from the fact that food makes up the largest component of trash in landfills.

Taking steps to become a zero-waste kitchen help reduce green-house gas emissions which attract eco-conscious diners and can actually save restaurants $7 for every $1 invested in anti-waste solutions.

Tech for waste reduction

There are several tech solutions out there aimed at reducing food waste. Tenzo and Winnow use powerful AI technology to measure the amount of food wasted. By keeping these metrics in control, restaurants can make more accurate food-forecasting predictions and avoid ordering too much or too little.

BlueCart is another tech integration that claims to have reduced their users’ food waste by 52%. With BlueCart, restaurants can centralize their food suppliers on one platform and make better forecasting decisions.

Recycling is a pretty straightforward task but how do you avoid dumping the actual food into the landfill? The To Good To Go allows restaurants to sell their extra food instead to sustainability-driven customers instead of letting it go to waste. Restaurants can use their app to get connected with the largest food surplus platform dedicated to reducing food waste.

Aside from apps, restaurants can use appliances like dehydrators and digesters to dispose of food in a more sustainable way. In simple terms, digesters use water while dehydrators use heat to break down food. Both digesters and dehydrators can be great solutions to help with restaurant food waste reduction and sustainability.

Cloud-Based POS

Cloud-based POS systems were already an applauded restaurant innovation before the pandemic but has seen an even greater boom because of it. Being able to access the restaurant POS system from anywhere has been a real significant benefit in these times. N0t only can restaurants store transaction records better, is also makes it easier for restaurants to get paid!

Restaurants can diversify payment options whether it be through 3rd-party delivery apps or their own website for online orders.

For dining in, cloud-based POS systems help customers make contactless payments with ease.

Restaurant POS tech

Upserve‘s POS system allows restaurants to create dining maps, view sales and update their menu instantly. Upserve is available on IOS and Android for smooth integrations within any full-service restaurant.

TouchBistro, the iPad-based POS system, also does the same and is one of the better known POS systems out there. For smaller restaurants looking for a more affordable yet effective alternative can consider using Square.

Online Ordering

Probably the most impacted area of restaurants from the pandemic, the online ordering surge will continue. Restaurants that are only using third-party delivery companies like UberEats and GrubHub to fulfill orders outside their restaurant may want to invest in their own online ordering system.

Technology for online ordering

ChowNow helps restaurants get pick-up, delivery, and curbside orders while eliminating third-party delivery companies. Just like ChowEasy, ChowNow helps restaurants get full control over the guest experience instead of stealing them like 3rd-party delivery companies tend to do.

Toast also empowers restaurants to take control of their own delivery and takeout. Toast has many integrations and works wonders in conjunction with it’s own POS system.

Looking for a fun way to get more dine-in customers? ChowEasy is a platform 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! Learn more now


5 Profit-Boosting Apps for Restaurants (Not Delivery)

Check out these must-have apps that can actually boost profits. In an industry where razor-thin margins are a common problem, every dollar saved counts!

We have refrained from mentioning 3rd party delivery apps because they are already widely known. Instead, we mentioned apps that will appeal to the savvy restaurateur who knows the power of working smart and being strategic.

Here are 5 profit-boosting apps for restaurants that every restaurant should consider.


Thinking about putting the control of online ordering and delivery in YOUR hands? ChowBot is a POS system that allows restaurants to OWN their online delivery instead of outsourcing it for a hefty price.

Restaurants are able to sync their menu to their online ordering site with updates made on-the-fly. Customers can see the menu exactly how they would see it at the restaurant and complete order online for takeout or delivery. Furthermore, the order is directly uploaded in the restaurants database.

You can think of ChowBot as e-commerce for restaurants.

ChowBot | Learn More


No more losing precious time shifting through a mess of papers, excel spreadsheets, and invoices to evaluate your spending.

BlueCart allows restaurants to easily order supplies through their web and mobile platform. Restaurant managers will enjoy the convenience of having all their products and suppliers in one centralized place.

Not only can supplies be ordered from the comfort of one’s couch, BlueCart also seamlessly hosts key analytics. Users can set budgets, return damaged or extra products, and be alerted of supplies that need to be re-ordered urgently. View reports in real time to make better forecasting decisions and easily spot opportunities to increase margins.

By increasing accuracy with forecasting supplies, restaurants can eliminate food waste and save more than they may realize.

BlueCart | Learn More


Not an app that directly affects restaurant operations but literally puts you in front of industry trends as they are unfolding. Always being “in the know” is a surefire way to maximize the chances of making profitable decisions.

We all get bombarded with information we don’t really need to know when it comes to surfing the web. Feedly cuts through the noise and curates blogs, news articles, and other content that is truly relevant to their users.

Restaurants managers or owners can have all the latest restaurant trends and news come to them with no effort. They can even share industry insights gathered form the latest news with their team in an effort to start capitalizing on the latest trends!

Feedly | Learn More


Toast is a restaurant POS platform that operates smoothly with your entire restaurant and is highly integratabtle.

It streamlines restaurant operations with it’s suite of technology from handheld POS systems, online ordering platform, and even payroll management.

Time is money and having all restaurant operations in one centralized place saves a ton of time and headache.

Additionally, with Toast, diners will be able to make orders on their own mobile devices. Contactless options are bound to help attract more diners in this time of the pandemic.

Toast | Learn More


Every restaurant knows that dine-in guests bring the most profitable returns and that dining-in will NEVER go out of style. In fact, there is a forever-growing, passionate group of people identified as “foodies” who live for the restaurant experience.

ChowEasy helps local restaurants get discovered by people who love dining in restaurants. Through the ChowEasy app, restaurants create a promo anonymously and diners enter a bid. Once a bid matches the restaurant promo, the restaurant name is revealed to the bidder and he/she becomes a new customer!

The diner discovers a new local restaurant and saves while the restaurant gets a new, quality dine-in customer.

ChowEasy | Learn More

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