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What are the best restaurant promotions?

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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!

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  1. 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

      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

        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.

    2. 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. 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. 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. 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.