April 6, 2020

Even if your dining room is closed based on the current pandemic, there are still opportunities to continue serving your valued customers. While most businesses have been forced to move to a takeout and delivery operation, restaurant owners have put their heads together to remain open.

Below are some creative specials and services restaurants are offering to maintain sales during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Drink Specials 

Restaurants around the country are selling discounted beer and half-priced wine bottles when combined with a food purchase.

Creative New Signage

Several restaurants are creating large signs and using space markers to efficiently direct customers through pick-up lines while maintaining a 6’ distance and limiting face-to-face contact.

Raise Your Spirits to Raise Spirits

Cocktail lounges, breweries, and restaurants are crafting signature to-go cocktails for customers to enjoy during virtual happy hours.

Know Your Customer

Restaurants are perfecting their CRMs to keep customers up to date on the latest promotions and news. It’s a great time to post creative photos of specials, menus and cocktails on Facebook and Instagram, and to use email blasts to let customers know that you are still open for takeout. 

Buy Now, Save Later

Restaurants are offering gift card specials, such as buy $100 gift card, get a complimentary $20 gift card. This is an option for restaurants that are temporarily closed.

Gift Card Matching

Some restaurants are offering a donation to help their staff or donate food to first responders in conjunction with a gift card purchase. Some offer dollar to dollar cards to patrons in thanks for their support.

Social (Distanced) Media

Restaurants are getting creative on social media, posting signature cocktails and meal special photos, and sponsoring fun contests where customers can post pictures with their meals. 

Holiday Meals 

Many restaurants are offering meals for upcoming holidays that can be picked up and reheated.

Examples of Restaurants Getting Creative

Here are some innovative ideas restaurants are implementing to keep customers and attract new customers during this crisis. 

1. Max & Benny’s

What They are Doing

Max and Benny’s is offering free delivery on orders over $50 within a five-mile radius of their location. Deliveries will be dropped off and the customer is alerted when it arrives. They also offer a curbside Passover dinner. 

For more information visit Max and Benny’s Facebook page or call 847-272-9490.

2. Gibson’s Steakhouse

What They are Doing

Gibson’s steakhouse is preparing and delivering pre-packaged cuts of meat for home cooking. They are also offering 50% off select beers and wines for customers who order using DoorDash. 

To learn more, visit the Gibson’s Steakhouse website or call 866-442-7664

3. Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant Group

What They are Doing

The Lettuce group’s array of restaurants offering daily and weekly affordable meals for curbside pick-up, as well as meal kits for customers so customers can learn new culinary skills. Select restaurants are also selling Specialty Spirits (rare whiskey and rum, Japanese whisky) and fine wines from their personal collections. 

To learn more, visit the Lettuce Entertain You website or call 773-878-7340.

4. Maple & Ash 

What they are doing 

Maple & Ash has an employee relief fund on their website. They offer meal kits for 4 that include a paired wine and encourage patrons to post photos of the meal and tag them on Instagram. They are offering a dollar for dollar gift card matching program for everyone who supports them during the shutdown.

For more information, go to their website, Instagram page or call  312-944-8888.

5. Etta 

What They are Doing

Etta offers meal kits for pick up, starting at 3 pm as well as weekly menu specials. They have Instagram contests and also doing a dollar for dollar gift card program.   

For more information, visit their website, Instagram page or call  312-757-4444.

6. Alinea

What They are Doing

Chicago’s renowned Alinea is offering a three-course comfort food reheatable curbside take out.  The current offering is Coq au Vin, served with potatoes and a salad, as well as a chocolate dessert.

Contact Alinea at 312-867-0110 or visit their website.

7. Mia Dia from Scratch

What They are Doing

Mia Dia from Scratch is offering lowered prices in hopes of encouraging guests to pick up a meal for a neighbor in need. They are also offering delivery and curbside pickup, with all tips going to their service team.

To ensure customer safety and maintain social distancing protocols, Mia Dia from Scratch has implemented a deli-style ticket program for pick-up orders.

For more information visit their website

8. Manny’s

What They are Doing

This Downtown Chicago deli is organizing a central pick-up location for commuters and suburbanites. Manny’s has also been donating meals to local hospitals and fire departments in the Chicago area. 

For more information go to  mannysdeli.com or call 312-939-2855.

Final Thoughts

Are there other strategies or techniques you have applied that have proven to be effective during the current pandemic? Please let us know by visiting our social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook.