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What are the best restaurant promotions?

t
timxph May 27, 2011 12:29 PM

I work for a fine dining restaurant and summer is our slow season so we are looking to do some summer promotions. We like fun and outside the box. We have ideas we're excited about, but before we start, I was hoping I could tap into the great expertise on the boards to see if there are some great restaurant promos in other areas that you have gotten excited about or really enjoyed.

With all the groupons and living socials, etc. it's a new world out there for restaurants and how we market and gain new diners while keeping the regulars happy and returning. Do you "groupon"? Do you prefer just straightforward discounts or do you like events and other types of promotions? Do you have a story of a restaurant event you thought was really great?

Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  1. e
    escondido123 May 27, 2011 08:33 PM

    I thought I had posted this, maybe got lost. You can sometimes have a great promo by hooking up with a charitable event. You supply food and get your name out there. Look around in your area and some are sure to pop up.

    1. Bill Hunt May 27, 2011 06:09 PM

      I like the Ch. Pétrus 1947 at the 1947 release price. That one always gets me in, and I could care less about the food.

      In all seriousness, I seldom even look at "specials," other than on the menu. That does not help you, and you pose a very fair question. The best that I can come up with is a distillation of various posts on various boards - people seem to really, really be looking for extended and broad "Happy Hours," which is a real misnomer, as they are looking for 4:00PM, until 9:00PM sort of dining. They seem to gravitate to a full menu being discounted at the bar, and that sort of thing.

      On the New Orleans Board, specifically, I see dozens (maybe 100's?) where $ 0.25 Martinis are ALL the rage. That "promo" really resonates with so very many folk. Most of those seem to be around lunch/brunch, but, given the constant comments, many must enjoy them.

      For me, events with winemakers pouring their wares, or guest chefs, carry far more promotional weight, but I do not think that I am in the demographic that you are likely shooting for.

      Good luck, and I am sure that others will give you better feedback.

      Hunt

      1. t
        therealdoctorlew May 27, 2011 01:43 PM

        Depending on what kind of restaurant you have, it may be feasible to team up with a winery that will provide a speaker and wines for a special tasting meal that would go with your food. You set it up for a slow night or weekend afternoon, have a menu of small plates/tastes of you rcuisine, and the winery provides the added draw.

        1. m
          mpjmph May 27, 2011 01:28 PM

          There's a place in my parents' neighborhood that offers a 3 course dinner (soup/salad, entree, dessert) for $19.95 on Fridays and Saturdays. It includes any entree $20 or less, including (small) lobster tails.

          1. inaplasticcup May 27, 2011 01:25 PM

            I like when a restaurant offers a happy hour where certain menu items are offered at some sort of discount.

            I've taken a few friends to happy hour at a couple of my favorite restaurants and introduced them to the food that way, which inspired them to go back for a regular sit-down meal.

            1. p
              phantomdoc May 27, 2011 01:22 PM

              I like Restaurant.com. Just buy the promo that you want, and not a whole book, like entertainment.com. This way your advertising money goes right to the customer, hoping they will return and recommend to others.

              1. babette feasts May 27, 2011 01:06 PM

                Half price wine or no corkage night are good promos for fine dining, where wine can be a significant cost. Or if you don't already offer an affordable prix fixe option, that can work too.

                2 Replies
                1. re: babette feasts
                  Bill Hunt May 27, 2011 07:00 PM

                  You caught my attention with one word - wine. The no-corkage is a nice idea, but BYOW can be problematic, due to municipal, county and state laws. Everything depends on location.

                  Though not a BYOW person, in general, if a really good restaurant offered me a BYOW night, then I would strongly consider them, along with a couple of bottles from my cellar.

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                    babette feasts May 27, 2011 08:06 PM

                    True, definitely check local rules. Here in WA we the state is fairly old fashioned about alcohol - liquor only sold in liquor stores, need to have 5 hot entrees to serve hard liquor - but as long as the restaurant has a valid license to sell wine, waiving corkage is not a problem. Good for those slow nights, like sunday or monday.

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