5 Additional Revenue Streams for Restaurants
secondary revenue sources for your restaurant
Posted: May. 07, 2019

Explore these five other revenue streams to earn money for your restaurant.

Restaurant competition is fierce, and the day-to-day business might need a revenue boost. See five secondary revenue sources for your restaurant below.

Sell Restaurant Merchandise

You don’t need to be a chain restaurant or have a top chef in the kitchen to start selling restaurant merchandise. With a loyal customer base, a clever name, or an addictive secret sauce, you can get started.

In the past few years, big-name restaurants have had huge success using merchandise as a secondary revenue stream (and marketing opportunity). TGI Fridays sells frozen food in major supermarkets, Hooters bottles its famous wing sauce for sale, and Dunkin Donuts sells coffee mugs.

When a restaurant has a distinct style, customers are proud to wear the merchandise. It’s an opportunity for customers to proudly wear or buy something that aligns with their own lifestyle or belief system. Popular fast-food chain the Meatball Shop says selling merchandise is about “getting folks to join the Meatballer lifestyle and help spread the brand. I’ve seen one of our hats worn all over the world.”

If your restaurant is located in a tourist destination, that’s all the more reason to sell merchandise as a personal souvenir for customers.

If you pursue this avenue, follow these guidelines to make a merch selection customers will buy:

1. It should reflect your company’s values and lifestyle. Look at the Sunrise Shack on Oahu island; they are a healthy juice shop that identifies as a Hawaiian souvenir shop. Selling bowls (perfect for acai breakfasts), socks with pineapples, and surfer-inspired tees, customers are thrilled to take a piece of the Aloha State home with them.

2. Be creative. Merchandise should be an extension of your brand. Live-show venue Hojoko in Boston sells guitar picks because they “wanted to have a collection of things you’d find in a band’s green room pre-show.”

3. Display your merch front and center. Be proud of your restaurant merchandise and make sure customers know they can buy something! Additionally, if you are selling food items like a sauce or special salt, put bottles on every table so customers can experiment on their own.

4. Be open to collaborations with local businesses or other brands. Make a strategic partnership with a complementary company to put your restaurant in front of new customers.

See the other benefits of selling restaurant merchandise here.

Offer Restaurant Gift Cards

While it can’t be considered a true revenue stream on its own, restaurant gift cards are a super way to upsell and boost sales. Gift cards draw customers back, and they also bring in new customers. If you haven’t started selling gift cards yet, you are missing out on one of the easiest ways to generate more business for your restaurant.

Write a Cookbook

Cookbooks are a terrific way of boosting your reputation, but for some restaurants, cookbooks are a steady source of income. While eating out has become a significant part of social life and will remain this way for some time, Instagram and Food Network’s TV series have made people curious about cooking. Experimenting in the kitchen and the desire to improve cooking skills is the latest pastime, and motivated consumers are looking for great recipes. Your restaurant could be that resource!

Sound interesting? See the dos and don’ts of publishing a restaurant cookbook.

Offer Meal Kits by Delivery

If you don’t have the manpower to sell restaurant merchandise or the interest in making a cookbook, another revenue source to consider is meal kits. You have no doubt heard of these services—customers receive a box containing all the contents to cook a meal at home—and restaurants are well-suited to set up this business model.

How to Set Up a Meal Kit Service

The single requirement for a meal kit is an easy-to-follow recipe. Prepare individual ingredients for customers in advance (like sauces, meat marinades, and other tricky, time-consuming cooking processes) and give them step-by-step instructions to assemble the parts. Your customers will enjoy preparing your restaurant’s favorite dishes at home for friends or for a night alone. Guests can pick up their meal, or better yet, offer meal kits via delivery. Industry experts believe meal kits are the future of restaurant delivery.

Be a Vendor for Special Events, Conventions, and Festivals

Some restaurants offer catering services on the side; but if you don’t have the resources to start a side catering business, become a vendor for special events, business conventions, or music and art festivals. Very often, there is a small buy-in to join a festival and application to fill out. If accepted, you can earn a sizable profit, in addition to the sales coming in from your brick-and-mortar shop. To optimize this venture, apply for special events that your target customer would attend.

If you’re looking for creative ways to reach new customers, see how well recipe-sharing can boost your marketing strategy.