Restaurant Success Tips

Want to see more familiar faces at your restaurant? Raise your fun factor. Today’s guests are craving more than a meal. They want an entertaining experience – from live trivia to tasting events. If you can provide that, you’ll have guests feeling the love and coming back for more.

According to a study by Eventbrite and Harris Interactive, customer spending on entertaining experiences has increased by 70% since 1987. The study also shows that 78% of millennials would rather purchase an experience than an item or product.

So, make every visit to your restaurant a memorable, fun experience.

But there’s one key detail. Aim to launch recurring entertainment instead of one-off events. Repeat events – like monthly club meetups and weekly live trivia – are hands down the best way to earn that repeat business.

Live Trivia Nights

Looking to increase your restaurant’s weeknight business? The answer is live trivia. The live trivia trend is sweeping the nation, bringing everyone together each week at restaurants and bars. Make sure to promote your trivia nights and get listed in trivia calendars to draw in new crowds.

  1. Live Trivia with Team Spirit

For the biggest boost in repeat business, hold live trivia tournaments that run one night a week for 6-8 weeks. Encourage patrons to form teams. You could even provide t-shirts with your restaurant’s logo and the team name. Reward 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams with gift cards to your restaurant.

  1. Charity or Corporate Live Trivia Tournaments

Show you’ve got heart. Invite local non-profits to compete in live trivia for a prize donation to their charity. Or, spark friendly competition between local businesses.

  1. Restaurant vs. Restaurant Live Trivia

Some trivia companies can set up a multi-site live trivia event. Your restaurant’s patrons can compete in real-time against other venues in town. It’s a great opportunity for PR.

Pro Tips for the Best Live Trivia Events

  • The better the prizes, the better the turnout for live trivia. On top of gift card prizes, create a trophy for winning teams (very Instagram-worthy). Like the Stanley Cup, it can rotate with the winners.
  • Offer appetizer and drink specials meant for sharing. Think group-friendly pitchers of beer or sangria and mega-sized appetizer platters.
  • You can hire a trivia host, but thousands of restaurants are running live trivia events using their own staff. Buzztime gives you everything needed to run the event: restaurant tabletop tablets for automatic scoring and up-to-date questions. Plus, when your employees rock the mic, it’s a chance to bond with guests. And outside live trivia hosts can get pricey…fast.

Be Cool to the Kids

When Mom or Dad doesn’t want to cook, be their go-to restaurant. How? By catering to their kids.

  1. Digital Arcade on Restaurant Tabletop Tablets

The same restaurant tabletop tablets used for live trivia, also come with digital arcade games for every age. Little Jonny and Susi can get their game on, while the parents unwind.

  1. Create a Kid’s Club

Take a cue from Benihana’s Kabuki Kids program. Parents can enroll children under 12 to receive a complimentary Benihana mug and membership to the club. The club offers just-for-kids entertainment like sushi-making classes. You could even create a small kid’s club “zone” in your restaurant: just set up little tables and chairs, plus toys and games.

Pro Tips to Win Over the Kids (and Parents)

  • Put fun on the kid’s menu…literally. Serving standard chicken fingers and fries? Ask your distributor for dinosaur-shaped nuggets. Serve up rainbow fries: a mix of sweet potato, standard potato, and zucchini fries.
  • Make like McDonald’s and throw in a new prize with every kid’s meal you serve each month.

Let’s Go Clubbing

The beauty of creating or hosting clubs at your restaurant? Like weekly live trivia, clubs meet up regularly for built-in repeat business.

  1. Book Club

Book clubs are popular with everyone, from millennials to retirees. Usually held in someone’s home, invite them into your restaurant instead. Sweeten the deal with a custom cocktail inspired by their book of the month.

  1. Whiskey or Wine Club

One restaurant in upstate New York runs a monthly whiskey club. Members pay in advance for a “subscription,” then come in for whiskey flights provided by a different brand rep each month.

  1. Beer Lover’s Club

Tap into the craft beer craze. Create a beer lover’s club that gets the first taste of new brews. Go a step further and team up with a local brewery. You could offer club members a complimentary pint glass with your logo.

Pro Tips for Creating Clubs

  • Use to locate existing clubs in your area. From chess clubs to poker clubs, why not invite them to your restaurant?
  • The restaurant tabletop tablets that run digital arcade games and live trivia also give restaurant patrons access to nationally scheduled trivia games. These games run 7 days a week, 15 hours a day. Many players have formed their own clubs around specific trivia games.

Move to the Head of the Class

In addition, to live trivia, DIY classes are another “it” event at restaurants nationwide. Restaurants are becoming hubs of social learning courses, and this is a trend you don’t want to get left out of. Find classes that fit your target customer base, and collaborate with local course instructors to save on costs, while building connections within the community.

  1. Cooking and Mixology Courses

Show off the skills of your chefs and bartenders. Ask them to run a class! It could be weekly mixology 101 courses run during happy hour. The bartender can do a 15-minute demo on mixing up cocktail classics.

  1. Let Guests Get Their Hands Dirty

Plant Nites are sprouting up at restaurants and bars. A Plant Nite host provides the supplies and instructions; guests leave with their own terrariums. The company claims that 67% of attendees return to the host restaurant for more fun, and 89% of Yaymaker’s Plant Nite event attendees are new customers.

Alternatively, your restaurant can host a Paint Nite, and allow guests to come to get creative and messy while trying your restaurant. Many bars are hosting wine and paint events, attracting a new audience.

Pro Tips for Hosting Classes

  • Show guests what they’re missing with a live stream of your class on Facebook Live. On Facebook’s updated newsfeed, live videos get 6x the interaction than pre-recorded videos (which get more likes and comments than photos). In fact, use Facebook Live to capture the action of every event you hold – from live trivia to a live band.

Put on a Show

While live trivia, classes, and clubs can bring in customers on the regular, why not build fun into every meal? Many restaurants offer live entertainment with bands, have bingo events, or themed nights where the staff gets involved.

  1. Got Flair? Bartender Tricks

Take inspiration from the iconic Salt Bae. His signature move of sprinkling salt on steaks captured worldwide attention. Send your bartenders to (online) flair school so they wow guests by performing tricks at the bar.

  1. Tableside Meal Prep

Japanese steakhouses do it right. They integrate entertainment into every meal as talented chefs cook in front of guests. Borrow that move and offer a few menu items that involve tableside prep: think flaming Greek cheese or classic Caesar salad.

Pro Tips for Putting on a Show

  • It doesn’t need to be complicated. One Florida restaurant arms each server with a trick ketchup bottle that shoots a red fabric streamer.
  • Let guests play with their food. Serve interactive meals like retro fondue.

Gamify Your Loyalty Program

Last but not least, add more entertainment to your loyalty program.

  1. Make it a Quest

Buy 10 sandwiches, get 1 free! That’s not very exciting. Especially when a guest is only on sandwich number 3. First of all, rewards should be unlocked along the way. Some should be surprises. Panera’s MyPanera program integrates surprise rewards that are revealed every few visits.

If you can offer exciting rewards along the way, guests will spend up to 39% more in a quest to unlock them according to a study by LevelUp and Nation’s Restaurant News.

Pro Tips for Improving Your Loyalty Program

  • Rewards can also be more than food. Think VIP events like a loyalty program members-only live trivia tournament or a meet-the-chef tasting event.
  • Go mobile with your loyalty program. That way, you can send push notifications to the guest’s smartphone, reminding them they’ve almost reached that fun reward.

As guests leave your restaurant, they should be hungry for their next visit. Serving up irresistible entertainment like live trivia or a cool class can bring them back again, and again, and again.