Your restaurant may have a lot to offer, but if your prospective patrons can’t check out the facility thoroughly, they may not walk through your front door. Positive reviews of the food and the service will help a great deal. Helping your guests feel comfortable and welcome as soon as they step inside will set the tone you want to share.
Upgrade The Lighting
A dark and dimly lit restaurant may be enjoyable in a film noir, but most diners prefer to sit at a better-lit table. There are many lighting tools that you can use at the table to provide a comfortable pool of light without creating a feeling of glare in a fine dining establishment.
Consider adding a lighting fixture that can be dimmed at the table. A hanging fixture over the table that can be slightly brightened when the table is populated and dimmed when the table is empty may be all that you need to brighten the space appropriately.
Colored lighting at the edges of the dining room may also be a great choice. While diners will need clear light on their food to enjoy your presentation, different colored lights in front of the kitchen, on the way to the restrooms, and over the server’s station could add terrific visual interest.
If you prefer to light with candles, invest in a sconce of up to 5 candles and let your hostess light the table to the preference of your guest. Do use unscented candles and add a brightening shade to bump up the light quality.
Enlarge And Expand The Seating
Like it or not, diners are getting bigger. If your space is small, you may not be able to expand the booth seating. Do try to invest in a few chairs for your center tables that will support larger diners. Leave enough room around these tables that a wheelchair can be pulled up if needed.
While you’re working on the seating, check out the new and modern fabric options to recover your bench seating. A simple change in upholstery can increase the comfort of your diners while making these areas easier to clean.
If you have a bar that is ringed by tables and often has guests waiting for a dining table, consider swapping out a low bar table or two and adding more comfortable seating and side tables for drinks. If you’ve got room for an electric fireplace or you have a real fireplace, even better.
Allow appetizers to be delivered to this area, or use this crowd as a testing place to try out new appetizers and small entrees. You’re going to get a more flexible crowd of folks enjoying these chairs; see if they will provide you with feedback on these test foods.
Promote On Social Media
Social media, properly managed, can be terrific free advertising. If you’re planning on making changes, your Instagram and Facebook pages are a wonderful spot to share this information.
You can also use this space to spotlight your employees. Restaurant employees often change out quickly because they feel underappreciated. If you have an employee who steps up and goes the extra mile for a guest with challenges, such as seating issues or food sensitivities, post their photo and a special thank you!
This is also a wonderful place to offer prizes to folks who
- order food for delivery
- join you for appetizers and drinks
- stay for dinner
Offer in-person or delivery guests the chance to visit your facility and enter their names in a drawing for a free appetizer or dessert during their next order. Don’t give away alcohol and be ready to offer an open-ended prize for travelers just stopping by.
Do consider hiring a social media manager if comments start to become overwhelming or spammers insert comments. Social media can do a lot for your brand, but if your Facebook feed is full of inappropriate photos or money-making scheme links, you will lose credibility.
Update Staffing Options
Your wait staff is your best sales team. Invest in quality restaurant scheduling software to make sure that your facility is fully staffed with folks who are excited to be there.
This is also the software that can help you track who is consistently trying to take time off. If you’re happy with them when they do come in, it may be time to check in and see if they need support off the job. For example, a young parent with an inconsistent babysitter may be constantly swapping shifts because they don’t have the time to find a better sitter. Their relationship may be suffering because they’re booked every weekend.
Give them time off to find a better sitter. Encourage them to enjoy one evening a weekend off every other week with their spouse. Yes, they may not be able to work as often as you would like. However, with a few questions and a bit of kindness, you can build loyalty and keep well-trained employees on your roster.
Make sure you also offer your waitstaff information they need on the floor as soon as they clock in. Specials, both drinks and food, the soup of the day, and today’s vegetables may be small things, but having this information as soon as they step on the floor can help them get into their stride quickly and have an efficient and productive shift.
Consolidate Kitchen Labor With The Right Tools
New kitchen equipment can be expensive. However, one broken espresso machine on a Friday night can ruin your dessert options. Additionally, that new tool will be more energy efficient and can lower your utility costs moving forward.
Check your counters and consider how many tools your team really needs. Can you lower the workload and the tools on the counter with a Thermomix? These tools can prepare rice, blend up a mushroom sauce, or chop and sauté onions for a burger. There will be a learning curve, but the investment will save space and time.
Like any business upgrade, it all comes down to relationships. Taking good care of your employees means taking good care of your guests. With a software update, a few new tools, and a social media manager, you can have a happier crew.