How to Leverage Restaurant Week

By now, most cities around the country have a thriving Restaurant Week that encourages customers to try new restaurants at discounted prices. Restaurant Week menus are usually multiple courses and uniform prices, so that new guests who know the type of cuisine have a firm idea of what to expect. The typical Restaurant Week guests are not always the guest that every business covets. Many guests admit to only going out during Restaurant Week, or waiting for special offers like this one before going out to eat.

However, this is not always the case, and oftentimes it is not. Many guests are looking for occasions that inspire them to rededicate themselves to going out to eat. Also, families change and dining out needs expand. Kids leave the house, new promotions come, and families can grow. The needs of your clientele are constantly evolving, meaning that itís important to demonstrate that youíre evolving with them.

Embrace it

Restaurant Week is that one stretch in the year of many restaurants where the bottom line is not the most important factor. Instead, this is a the best chance many restaurants have to reach out to a wide swath of new clientele Ė people who have established dining habits or who donít go out at all. The best way to approach it is to create the best menu possible while reminding servers of their chance to help the business grow.

A great effort in Restaurant Week is like having the best signage out front or the prettiest hostess at the front door. Itís the face of the business for many new guests, and it should be the result of your best effort. Many restaurants think of Restaurant Week as a helpful crutch during the down time. Restaurant Week tends to come in the late winter or spring, when tourism is down and many restaurants experience a lull. Instead, the mindset should be to have one of the best stretches of the year.

Try New Entrees

By rolling out new first courses, entrees, and desserts, guests see that youíre willing to try new things. This also encourages the kitchen staff to be creative, compete with each other, and see who can develop the best or top-selling new item. Restaurant Week is also a great chance to experiment with new proteins, use fresh ingredients, and work with local vendors looking for publicity. Many great top-sellers start with a trial run, and many great kitchen staffers get bored putting together the same entrees each night. Restaurant Week should be a great match for your creative, energetic kitchen.

Never Skimp

Restaurant Week may be the best chance many businesses get to demonstrate value. Unfortunately, many restaurants skimp on portions and proteins when developing their menu. Demonstrating value is about providing high-dollar food and service at perceivably lower prices. The opportunity for fine-dining restaurants to do this is too great to pass up. Demonstrating value can be a decisive factor in turning a restaurant into a success, and there may be no easier avenue to do so than during this week.

Advertise it

Restaurant Week is generally advertised by a local restaurant association on websites, in newspapers, on radio, and in any other possible format. But thereís usually nothing to stop an individual restaurant from advertising it on a website or in the paper. If itís about filling up the building, it should be mentioned at table visits, on table tents, and in email blasts in the weeks leading up to it.

Extend it

A few bold restaurants have extended Restaurant Week into a few weeks or even longer. The message in doing so is simple Ė guests know your business is one that is dedicated to providing great value to their guests. Couching it as being a response to popular demand sends a great signal.

I know of a restaurant that extended itÖforever. They simply reconfigured the menu, added a few items and changed the name. In fact, many restaurants have done something like this; especially in fine-dining, where prix fixe menus have become the norm. If your restaurant is struggling to provide a sense of value, donít hesitate to let the Restaurant Week philosophy become a way of life.