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  • 20 Best Restaurant Promotion Ideas for 2024

Another year, another opportunity to set (and smash) revenue goals for your restaurant. We all know to expect ebbs and flows in business throughout the year. When you start with a strong marketing plan, you position your restaurant to capitalize on the up months and power through the down ones.

With some grit and creativity, you can use these restaurant promotion ideas to maintain momentum. Here are 20 ideas that can fuel your efforts year-round!

Best restaurant marketing promotion ideas

Try these ideas a la carte or create your own special by combining a handful of them!

1. Cook up a new menu item

Any time you create something new, you can promote it to your audience.

Whether you serve up a new food item or craft a new cocktail, promoting your new offering can encourage diners to come in and try the latest.

example of starbucks seasonal restaurant promotion idea

Few brands do seasonal menu items quite as well as Starbucks.

There are countless ways to frame your new menu item. You might create a dish or drink:

  • Using seasonal local ingredients that will only be around for a few weeks or months (e.g., It’s soft-shell crab season!).
  • Celebrating a holiday or local event (e.g., Check out our Valentine’s Day chocolate lovers dessert menu).
  • In honor of a cultural phenomenon (e.g., A “seemingly ranch” and wings appetizer for the Swifties).

💡 Want promotion ideas for every month of the year? Free guide download >> The Mega Must-Have Marketing Calendar

2. Create specials for slow times

Every restaurant goes through ebbs and flows. Designing a promotion or special that targets slow times can help buoy your sales during those hours, days, or weeks.

Happy hour is a classic example of promotional pricing during a slow time. But you can put your twist on slow-period promotions.

Usually slow on Tuesdays? Create a Taco Tuesday offer where diners get a free margarita with any taco order. Do you experience a slowdown toward the end of your evenings? Offer a promotion for diners who come in the last hour before you close.

example of restaurant with slow season promotion idea

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Are there seasons that are slow in your area? Follow New York City’s example and create a Restaurant Week promotion for times when you experience a seasonal drag. You can even partner with other local restaurant owners to make it a broader event!

3. Build promotions that encourage upsells

The ultimate goal of a promotion is to get customers through the door. Once they’re inside, it’s up to you to make the most of their presence! Offering a deal on a low-cost item that naturally leads to an upsell is one way to do this.

During football season, a sports bar might serve up fifty-cent wings and a series of big screens playing all the Sunday night action. A deal like that will woo fans in the door. But of course, once they’ve bought their wings, they’ll want some pitchers of beer to wash them down!

A promotion on a lower-margin item that can lead to sales of higher-margin items is a great way to maximize the ROI of your offer.

📚 Free guide: 37 Ways to Promote Your Business (Whatever Your Budget!)

4. Design holiday specials

We often encourage brands to build marketing and promotions around seasons and holidays, and that’s because it’s an effective tactic!

Holidays put consumers in a celebratory (and spendy) mood. By creating thoughtful offers around holidays, you position your restaurant as the place for them to do their holiday buying.

example of restaurant seasonal marketing promotion

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No matter what kind of restaurant you own, there’s a holiday for you to build a promotion around:

  • Offer family-sized takeaway trays of Thanksgiving sides so at-home hosts only have to worry about cooking the bird.
  • Create a romantic Valentine’s Day pre-fixe menu that ends with a decadent dessert tray.
  • Throw a Fourth of July BBQ on your patio or rooftop, and serve great views of the town’s fireworks display alongside grilled burgers and dogs.
  • Host an Easter Sunday brunch featuring food specials, and have the Easter Bunny stop by to take photos with families and kids.

5. Create a collaboration

We’re all in this together! You can expand your reach and revenue by establishing partnerships with other local business owners.

The trick is to find a partnership that makes sense. If you run a pizza parlor, call the brewery down the street. Pitch the idea of a pizza and beer night hosted at your place or theirs. Invite customers to enjoy special slices you’ve created to pair with the brewery’s signature lager.

Bonus points if you run this collaborative special on a typically slow night for you both (see restaurant promotion idea #2)!

example of restaurant promotion collaboration

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6. A collab to surprise and delight

Beer and pizza are a natural pairing. But sometimes, an off-the-wall restaurant promotion idea can generate even more interest!

Think outside the box and search for potential non-hospitality or restaurant partners to work with.

A fast-casual salad spot might pair up with the fitness studio down the road to offer a Fuel Your Workout deal. You serve up a discount to folks who stop by your store post-workout; the studio offers a free class or two to people you refer to them.

These less apparent collaborations or partnerships with other local brands have the potential to introduce your business to a whole new audience.

7. Tap local influencers

The world of influencers is wide. Just because you can’t afford to pay Kim K. or EmRata to take part in your restaurant promotion ideas doesn’t mean you should overlook influencer marketing altogether.

In fact, micro-influencers (those with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers) boast stronger marketing stats—their engagement rate is 60% higher than the biggest influencers in the game.

example of influencer restaurant marketing

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So why not reach out to micro-influencers in your circle? If there’s one running a local foodie Instagram or a nearby mom blogger with a following on TikTok, this type of partnership might be just the thing to promote your restaurant to a relevant, engaged audience.

8. Establish a loyalty program

If you’ve ever bypassed the nearest café to travel to the shop where you have a punch card started, you know the power of loyalty programs firsthand.

It’s nice to show your regular customers some love. And even little rewards can nudge these folks who already know and like your brand to become more loyal to you.

The coffee shop punch card is a classic example, but there are dozens of other ways any restaurant could design a loyalty program. You could offer a free extra side every ninth visit or host a holiday party for frequent guests who hit a certain number of visits throughout the year.

9. Participate in a local event

Consumers like to buy from local businesses; 70% of survey respondents reported shopping small. When you participate in community events, you introduce your restaurant to your neighbors who are eager to support local businesses like yours!

example of restaurant participating in local event for promotion

Vendors at Smorgasburg, an outdoor food festival in NYC, get the chance to connect with thousands of foodies.

Keep an eye out for any way you could become part of events in your local area:

  • Rent a booth at your local food bazaar or county fair.
  • Sign up to cater an event at the high school or community center.
  • Participate in a holiday event hosted by your Chamber of Commerce.
  • Register to be a food vendor at your town’s seasonal festival.

10. Give back to your community

Another way to make a name for your restaurant around town is to give back.

We already know consumers like supporting local businesses; when you establish yourself as a local business with a heart of gold, you only increase those feelings of goodwill.

There are plenty of ways you might give back to your community:

  • Organize a day of service for your team to volunteer at a local charity.
  • Donate surplus food through a local organization that helps feed those in need.
  • Sign on to sponsor a charity event in your area.
  • Offer free catering services for a community fundraiser.

11. Make birthdays a big deal

When people are out celebrating a special occasion, their check averages tend to rise. If you can make your restaurant a destination for special events, like birthdays or anniversaries, you can be the one they spend those milestone days with.

example of restaurant birthday promotion

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You may offer a play area for children, making your restaurant a go-to for kids’ birthday parties. Or perhaps your staff engages in an exuberant, social-media-video-worthy rendition of the happy birthday song.

Even better: When you become the favorite spot for annual celebrations, you generate recurring revenue year after year!

12. Host an online contest or giveaway

Social media giveaways are excellent restaurant promotion ideas to generate buzz for your brand. Contests encouraging engagement from your current followers and asking them to introduce your page to their friends can spread your online reach.

And once you’ve built up a following of new second-degree connections, you’ve got a whole new audience to dazzle with your social media content.

example of restaurant giveaway promotion on instagram

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How do you run a contest or giveaway for your restaurant? We’ve got tips for hosting a giveaway on either Facebook or Instagram.

13. Create an in-person challenge

Not all restaurant promotion ideas are the right fit for every brand, but an in-person challenge might be for you if you run a casual spot.

Turn to a series like Hot Ones (where celebrities dare to eat progressively spicer wings) or Nathan’s Famous July 4 hot dog-eating contest for inspiration. What food challenge can you present to diners in exchange for a free meal, some branded swag, and bragging rights?

14. Step up your review game

Sometimes, the best restaurant promotion ideas involve asking someone else to do the hyping for you.

Dozens of stats demonstrate the incredible value positive online reviews can bring to your business. Did you know that more than 9 in 10 consumers read reviews before making a purchase, and 84% of them trust online reviews as much as the word of friends or family?

That’s why relying on reviews is a great way to promote your restaurant. Consider asking existing customers for reviews after they’ve dined in or ordered to-go from you. Many third-party reservation apps or delivery platforms automate this process for you!

example of restaurant review on google

And remember, no matter what kind of review you get (good, bad, or ugly), always take the time to respond.

📫 Get ready-to-customize review request emails in our free guide >> The Complete Email Marketing Toolkit: Free Email Templates, Subject Lines & Tips

15. Expand your offerings

A new year might mean a new approach to your business. Are there ways to expand your offerings that could open you up to fresh avenues of promotion?

If you’re located in a business district, you might create a catering menu and offer sandwich trays and salad bowls for in-office lunch meetings. If you offer dine-in only but keep getting questions about takeout, this may be the year you look into the cost and logistics of providing to-go or delivery.

Whatever expanded offering you create, take the time to promote it on your website, social media, and via email! You might also use analog marketing techniques, like direct mailers or local newspaper ads.

16. Make your restaurant a destination

Competition in the restaurant industry can be stiff, and anything that helps your business stand out can positively impact your bottom line.

example of restaurant trivia night promotion

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Consider creating an event that draws in new customers regularly. Bars often do this with trivia nights and karaoke challenges, but any restaurant can dream up a weekly event for their business.

An Italian food spot might do Spaghetti Wednesdays, while a tiki bar might do Mai Tai Tuesdays. And any bar or restaurant can host live music performances weekly to draw in a crowd for tunes and bites.

17. Create branded merch

People love to buy merch from their favorite brands. Whether you’re a cafe that sells travel mugs or a dive bar that offers trucker hats, customers who have a good time at your establishment just might opt to spend another $15 or $25 on a little piece of your business they can take with them.

example of restaurant branded merch

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Then, as those happy customers wear or tote your branded swag around, you get free promotion and word-of-mouth marketing!

18. Offer a class for foodies

Is your chef kind of a big deal? Do you have a serious mixologist running your bar program?

You can tap any of the passionate professionals on your team to host a class! Your chef can offer at-home cooking classes—perfect for book clubs or bachelorette parties. Your bar team can host a wine-tasting or cocktail-making class in your bar area.

Classes are a great way to deepen relationships with your restaurant’s fans and promote your team’s expertise.

19. Step up your social media game

When was the last time you posted on social media? If you can’t remember, it’s probably been too long.

restaurant social media example on instagram

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Social media platforms, particularly visual ones like Instagram or TikTok, are great for spreading the word about your restaurant. When brainstorming what to create, the possibilities are endless. You might try sharing:

  • Mouth-watering pictures of your latest seasonal dishes.
  • Promotional photos of your private dining spaces, all decorated for the holidays.
  • Videos of your kitchen team preparing a signature dish or your bar team shaking up a classic cocktail.
  • A carousel post with step-by-step photos showing how to make a simple, elegant appetizer (like styling a cheese plate or crudités platter).
  • Candids of your staff members in action, with a caption that details their professional background.
  • Images from a special in-house event you hosted for a recent holiday or celebration.

20. Advertise where your customers are looking

Investing some advertising dollars in capturing high-intent searchers can be money well spent.

Create a local PPC strategy for search engines like Google to help your restaurant appear prominently in results for queries like “Thai food near me.”

example of restaurant ppc ad on google search

You may also opt to advertise on industry-specific sites or apps. For example, OpenTable’s promoted results will serve your restaurant as an option for diners looking in the app for a place to make a reservation.

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Make 2024 a big success with these restaurant promotion ideas

Coming up with enough marketing concepts to get you through the next year can feel daunting. But with these 20 restaurant promotion ideas to get you started, you’re well on your way to filling out a healthy marketing calendar that can help you make this year a great one!

Here are the best restaurant promotion ideas to try:

  1. Cook up a new menu item
  2. Create specials for slow times
  3. Build promotions that encourage upsells
  4. Design holiday specials
  5. Create a collaboration
  6. A collab to surprise and delight
  7. Tap local influencers
  8. Establish a loyalty program
  9. Participate in a local event
  10. Give back to your community
  11. Make birthdays a big deal
  12. Host an online contest or giveaway
  13. Create an in-person challenge
  14. Step up your review game
  15. Expand your offerings
  16. Make your restaurant a destination
  17. Create branded merch
  18. Offer a class for foodies
  19. Step up your social media game
  20. Advertise where your customers are looking

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