Preparing Your Restaurant for the Winter
When the snow falls and temperatures drop, it takes some extra motivation to venture outside. For a lot of people, staying warm at home is a lot more attractive than going outside to a restaurant. However, with a little marketing, a little sprucing, a few clever menu ideas and a touch of planning, getting customers out of their homes and into your restaurant is achievable.
This article will look at how to get that foot traffic — or, in winter, boot traffic — through your restaurant’s front door. We’ll provide some tips on how to keep your restaurant busy during winter.
Make It Welcoming
The first tip to prepare your restaurant for wintertime is to consider your space and how you can make it warmer and more inviting. If people who drive past your restaurant on the way home see the warmth radiating from inside, they might drop in or make a note to stop by on the weekend. You can also post photos of the inside of your restaurant on social media to showcase the cozy atmosphere.
Here are some ideas for making your restaurant more welcoming during the winter season:
- Draft-proofing: Ensure no cold drafts come through windows and doors to keep guests warm and comfortable.
- Winter ambiance: Candles, warm colors and warm winter decorations can elevate your space, making it cozy and welcoming for guests.
- Clearing paths and walkways: Clear walkways of excess snow and use salt or a de-icing solution to make the paths and entryway less icy.
- Lamps and lights: Use outdoor lighting to show people you are open as the days get shorter.
Adapt Your Outdoor Dining Options
Another restaurant tip for winter is to adapt your outdoor dining options. If you have an outside space and want to use it during the colder months, then bring out the blankets and heating options. A fire pit is an attractive feature that’s also practical for outdoor dining spaces.
You can also look into “dining pods” or “dining domes” in outside areas. These structures have a light metal framework covered by either a soft, transparent fabric material or a hard, translucent plastic. You can place your outdoor dining table and chairs inside — the result is a mini-dome that can keep guests warm and cozy in a unique way.
The structures protect guests from the cold wind, falling snow and icy temperatures. They are designed with aesthetics in mind, so although they may seem a little unusual, they are designed with elegance and to be visually appealing. And if you put one table per dining pod, you create a secluded space where guests can celebrate a special occasion or have a private family gathering.
Create a Seasonal Menu
One way to winterize your restaurant is to captivate your customers by incorporating seasonal vegetables and warm winter dishes into your menu during the colder months. Sourcing ingredients from a local food supplier also helps to reduce costs since less transport is required. Try out these menu ideas this winter:
- Use hearty vegetables: Keep an eye out for root vegetables like beetroot, carrots and potatoes. You can also create dishes using winter squash, which can be sweetened up with apples. All of these vegetables lead to heartwarming dishes like stews, soups and even warm salads.
- Start with a good broth: A tasty broth makes a great base for a hearty meal. You can use your broth to make soups, sauces and stews.
- Mix it up: You can take an already-made soup and elevate it with fresh ingredients to take a classic dish to the next level. Serve freshly baked bread with garlic or seeds on the side for added texture.
- End with a classic winter dessert: A delicious sweet treat keeps guests satisfied throughout the cold winter night. Take away the summer sundaes — instead, offer seasonal apple pies, hot brownies with ice cream and delicious ginger cake to keep your guests toasty. Include a well-made coffee on your menu, and you’ll have customers coming back for more.
Use Winter as Inspiration for Your Marketing Efforts
One challenge owners face when trying to keep restaurants busy during the wintertime involves inspiring customers to come when they’re happily warm at home. How do you reach out to them when they are snuggled in for the night and get them to put on their layers and come out for dinner?
Social media is a fantastic tool for achieving this goal. You can post videos and photos of customers enjoying their time at your spot, making sure the comforting food and the warm ambiance are captured. A lot of customers look at their social media feeds while they’re sitting at home, and if your advertisement or post appears, it could be just the thing that inspires them to face the cold.
Offer Takeout Options
People who would rather enjoy a warm meal at home can still enjoy your restaurant’s food if you offer takeout options. You can encourage customers to pick up a hot meal on their way home from work, and you’ll also want to include curbside pickup and takeout options for the utmost convenience. In your marketing efforts, you can suggest staying home on date nights while still enjoying restaurant-quality food. Or, perhaps a tasty takeout meal for a movie night would attract those who want to eat delicious food and also snuggle on the couch.
Enhance Your Cleaning Efforts
To help combat cold and flu season, you can take some subtle precautions like incorporating touchless menus, wiping laminated menus after each use or spreading out tables. If you go the route of offering touchless menus, you can place QR code stickers on each table that lead to a website with your menu. These slight adjustments show customers your commitment to health amid cold and flu season.
Create an Experience for Guests
Music can enhance the restaurant experience. An easy option is to use a playlist with classic winter songs — like Ella Fitzgerald’s cover of “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” or even “Let It Go” from “Frozen.” You can also bring in a local band or comedian to inspire customers to come out to your restaurant. Another option is hosting a trivia night to encourage friends to hang out.
Your restaurant style or customer demographics can help determine the best type of entertainment to offer. For example, a saxophone player or singer could work well if you have a jazz lounge-type space. You could bring in a violinist or a cellist or if you own a more high-end establishment. If your restaurant caters to young people, a band that covers pop songs might be a good option. Put out advertisements and see what bands and musicians come forward to bring entertainment quality to your space.
Bring in the Warmth With Feeser’s Food Distributors
Over 100 years ago, Feeser’s started a produce stand right here in Pennsylvania. We have grown a lot since then, but we still maintain our high standards with quality food and reliable service. Our family-owned business provides a personal, one-on-one experience when you purchase food from our extensive catalog of all your favorite brands.
Prepare your restaurant for winter, and work with our team to create a delicious seasonal menu with high-quality ingredients. Contact Feeser’s for food and restaurant supplies in the Mid-Atlantic area, or call us today at 1-888-326-3485.