Restaurant Survival Strategies

Blow Up Your Menu

Part of the charm of Downtown Danville restaurants is dining in and enjoying the lovely surroundings.  Because of that, most restaurants have catered their business and menu to that experience. That’s got to go.

Promoting takeout and delivery isn’t enough.  You have to revamp your menu to better align with this new, contactless, sheltered-in-place dining experience.  Customers are looking for two things: their favorite dishes that they miss eating and high volume of food so they don’t have to go out as much.  You can work with that!

Identify your top selling dishes and the offerings that you can scale, and go all in on those—creating a new menu that meets the new needs of our community.  Reduce your offerings down to the dishes that make up the top 20% of your sales, and fill the gaps with simplified new offerings that last longer than one meal.  If you’re an Italian restaurant, sell your uncooked pasta and jars of homemade sauce (two things that are rarely available in grocery stores right now). If you’re a sushi joint, sell your rice (that’s sold out in grocery stores, too).  Customers will buy this so they can enjoy the flavors of their favorite restaurant in their own home on their own time.

Take notice of the new style of eating and meet the need!


Pick Up the Slack for Grocery Stores and Amazon

Whole Foods, Safeway, Costco—shelves are empty within minutes of grocery stores opening.  Okay, well, you can get it on Amazon, right? Maybe, but their stock is low, too, and shipping is delayed up to a week (yes, even for us Prime members).

Meanwhile, your supply chain is still intact—with shipments of essentials and ingredients coming in daily.  Sell them!

Many restaurants have jumped on the selling toilet paper trend, but people need more than that—and you have it.  Create a marketplace section of your menu that sells key grocery staples and turn your restaurant into a 2-for-1 provider of both meals and groceries!  Now when a customer orders that night’s dinner from you, they’re also ordering eggs, milk, rice, bread, and anything else they need in their kitchen that’s currently sitting in yours.  (Oh, also, you know all that beer and wine that you can now legally have delivered?  Discount it and get it out the door!)

A client of ours in Napa did this last week, and the response has been unbelievable.  In fact, the demand has been so high that they’ve been able to bring back employees they previously thought they’d have to let go.  We couldn’t think of a better outcome than that.


Be Innovative

Impeccable service.  Soothing ambience. That favorite, always happy server.  The staples that used to bring people into your restaurant are no longer available.  It’s time to experiment and think outside the box. This can vary for every restaurant and their unique opportunities, but here are a few idea starters to get your creativity flowing:

  • Create Easter Eggs Basket Bundles to Sell and Deliver | Easter is fast approaching and stores are already low on eggs.  Create a package of eggs, coloring dye, vinegar, and anything else that allows families to enjoy decorating Easter Eggs while sheltering-at-home.
  • Launch NEW Menu Items | Creating a new dish takes work, time, and testing to get right—but nothing builds buzz like something new.  Heck, offer a new, outside-the-box dish every week, and make it limited. A client of ours recently launched a new Burger right in the middle of this crisis, when they never made burgers before—and it’s been their top seller ever since!  Now is the time to be bold.
  • Use your superpower | If you are know for something in particular find a way to promote it and repackage it to be easily accessible

Like we said, the opportunity to innovate is going to be unique for each business.  As creatives, we know more than most how important it is to have another person to bounce ideas off of.  If you need someone to do that with, contact us. We’re happy to spend some time with you and generate some buzz-worthy ideas—and at no cost.


Be Radically Vulnerable & Honest

If you’re struggling, share it.  If you’re scared, show it. If you had a small success, rejoice over it.  Now is not the time to be buttoned up and perfect; instead, be real and vulnerable.  It’s the era of people having Zoom video conferences in their PJ’s, people—and it’s about time!

We are firm believers that vulnerability doesn’t dispel people, but draws them closer—because it makes them say, “me too.”  Don’t be afraid to share your honest, authentic story with everyone, which leads us to…


Get Vocal

Building off being vulnerable and transparent, you have to have a place to vocalize it.  Now more than ever, consistently use your social media platforms!  Before this pandemic, the ability to tell your own story via social media platforms was a luxury—now, it’s a necessity.  The businesses that have been active there have experienced more immediate community support and so far proved to better weather this storm, but it’s not too late.

Post daily (multiple times a day, even!).  Jump on Instagram Stories every night. Share positive feedback from Facebook and Yelp users.  In short, be active.


Champion Others

We’re in this together—if you built a strong online presence prior to this pandemic, use it to help others.  Downtown Danville is made up of many restaurants, retail shops, gyms, and services. Promote them, highlight them, and collaborate with them.  We need each other more than ever right now.


Share the wealth, build the wealth.

Don’t hoard your secret sauce. If something is working for you. Let others know.