Summer is here, which means it's time for some fun events and promotions to get customers excited. You want to create memorable experiences that will have people talking and coming back all season long. The usual specials and happy hours won't cut it. You need interactive events, tasty treats, and Instagrammable moments that capture the carefree spirit of summer.
The good news is you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Try one (or more!) of these five event ideas to spice up your summer and boost business. From tropical-themed parties to frozen drink contests, there's something for every restaurant. Get ready to beat the heat and boredom with these interactive promotions your customers will love. Summer goes by fast, so start planning your sizzling events today! These creative concepts will ensure you end the season with a bang and hungry customers eager for more.
Interactive Food Classes: Teach Guests New Culinary Skills
Interactive food classes are a great way to engage customers and teach them new skills. Host a cocktail-making class where a mixologist shows guests how to whip up artisanal cocktails, or a cooking class focused on seasonal produce.
A cocktail class is a fun social event where a skilled bartender can demonstrate how to make 2-3 signature cocktails. Provide recipes and allow attendees to get hands-on experience muddling, shaking and stirring. Send them home with a coupon for one of the cocktails so they'll come back to show off their new skills.
- Promote the class 1-2 months in advance through social media, email, and in-restaurant advertising.
- Keep the class size intimate, around 10-15 people, to allow for personal interaction.
- Have all ingredients pre-measured and tools prepped for efficiency. But also give attendees the full experience of measuring and handling the tools.
- Share the recipes and some insider tips for recreating the cocktails at home. Your guests will appreciate the education and personal connection.
For food-focused restaurants, a cooking class is ideal. Choose a theme centered around in-season produce or regional specialties. Walk guests through 2-3 simple recipes they can easily replicate at home. Send them off with the recipes, samples, and a voucher for a meal on their next visit.
- Focus on hands-on participation, with guests actively helping mix, chop, and cook. Make it collaborative and fun.
- Explain the “why” behind methods and ingredients. Help them become better home cooks and more knowledgeable diners.
- Keep recipes uncomplicated. The goal is to inspire confidence in the kitchen, not overwhelm.
- Provide aprons, tools, and all ingredients. Make it an enjoyable, no-hassle experience.
Interactive events turn customers into participants and build memorable connections with your brand. Classes are a win-win, giving you face time with guests and arming them with skills and recipes to revisit again and again.
Local Festival Partnerships: Get Involved in Community Events
Partnering with local festivals and events is a great way to boost business during the summer. People are out and about, enjoying the nice weather and community happenings. Why not join in the fun?
Look for events related to food, music, art or family activities. Farmers markets, food truck rallies, craft fairs, and summer concert series are all great options. See if you can get a booth to promote your restaurant, or team up with organizers to sponsor the event. You’ll gain exposure to hundreds of potential new customers.
Once you find an event, determine how you want to participate. You could:
•Set up a booth to hand out coupons, samples, and menus. Engage people by offering a special discount or promotion for attendees.
•Sponsor a contest or giveaway. Raising awareness of your brand in a fun, memorable way.
•Provide food for vendors and volunteers. What better way for people to experience your delicious offerings? They’ll surely return as paying customers.
•Advertise in the event program or on flyers. Mention your participation and any special offers for people who stop by your booth.
•Partner with food trucks or other vendors. Cross-promote to each other’s customers and split costs. Collaboration is key.
•Spread the word on social media. Post photos, share the event details, and encourage people to look for your booth. Engage by running a check-in contest.
Participating in local festivals and events is a win-win. You’ll gain new fans, raise brand awareness, and drive more business to your restaurant this summer and for summers to come. Now, go find an event and get involved! Your community and your bottom line will thank you.
Outdoor Fitness Classes: Bring Your Brand to Local Workouts
Outdoor fitness classes are a great way to promote your restaurant brand and boost engagement with your local community. Partnering with area gyms, fitness studios, and trainers to sponsor or host outdoor workout events during the summer is a win-win. People are always looking for ways to stay active in the nice weather, and you’ll gain valuable exposure and goodwill.
Yoga or Tai Chi in the Park
Ask local yoga instructors or tai chi schools if they offer or would be interested in holding outdoor classes in a nearby park. Provide healthy post-workout snacks, samples, coupons or swag bags to participants. This is an easy, low-cost way to get your name in front of health-conscious individuals.
Morning Run Club
For restaurants open for breakfast or brunch, sponsor a weekly morning run club. Work with a trainer to map out 3-5K routes starting and ending at your location. Offer runners a discount on a post-run meal or smoothie. Running clubs are social events as much as workouts, so participants and their friends may become regulars.
If your town has popular bike trails, think about organizing a cycling event. Close down a section of road or partner with organizations that manage bikeways. Provide rest stops along the route with hydration, snacks, and your restaurant’s fare. Give cyclists coupons to come back another time. This type of highly visible event is great for publicity and community building.
The options for summer fitness collaborations are endless. Anything from bootcamps to paddle board yoga to obstacle course races are on the table. Work with event partners on promotions to spread the word and get people active and engaged with your brand. Offering samples, coupons and giveaways as a sponsor is key to converting fitness buffs into loyal customers. Outdoor exercise and healthy living go hand in hand with summer, so tap into that natural connection through interactive events. Your efforts will lead to a boost in sales and brand awareness all season long.
Nostalgic Parties: Throw It Back With Retro-Themed Events
Throw it back to the good old days with a retro-themed event at your restaurant this summer. Nothing sparks nostalgia and brings people together quite like music, fashion, and pop culture from decades past.
Choose a decade like the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s and build your event theme around it. Play hit music from that era, encourage guests and staff to dress up in vintage clothing styles, and serve popular foods and cocktails from that time period. People will love taking photos in your makeshift time machine.
Drive-in movie night
There’s nothing quite like watching a classic film at a drive-in movie theater under the stars. Since most drive-ins are long gone, bring back that experience for your guests. Set up a projector to show an iconic retro film like Grease, Back to the Future or Pulp Fiction. Have guests park their cars, sit outside or on the hood and provide popcorn, milkshakes and other movie snacks.
Make like American Bandstand and host a record hop. Play classic tunes from the 1950s and 60s and teach guests classic dances like The Twist, The Mashed Potato, and The Watusi. Hand out vinyl records, poodle skirts, leather jackets and slicked back “Danny Zuko” hair combs as fun photo props. This social, high-energy event is perfect for people of all ages.
Arcade and games
What’s more nostalgic than a good old fashioned arcade? Set up some retro arcade and carnival games like skee-ball, whack-a-mole, Pacman, Space Invaders and pinball. Give out tickets for high scores that guests can redeem for small prizes. This interactive event is great for kids and adults alike.
Throwing a retro party at your restaurant is a fun, interactive way to boost summer traffic and revenue. Don’t be afraid to go all out with decorations, props, costumes, music, movies, games and themed menu items and cocktails. Your guests will love stepping back in time for an evening of food, drinks and nostalgia.
Takeout Picnic Baskets: Offer Meals to-Go for Park Lounging
One interactive way to boost summer sales is offering takeout picnic baskets filled with your tasty menu items for customers to enjoy in local parks. People are itching to get outside after months of being cooped up inside.
Offer a Variety of Options
Offer basket options like:
- A charcuterie spread with meats, cheeses, olives, nuts and bread
- A burger or sandwich basket with fries or a fresh salad
- A pasta or rice bowl with grilled chicken and veggies
- A taco kit with all the fixings for DIY tacos in the park
Keep things simple but high quality. Source local and seasonal ingredients when possible for the freshest flavors of summer.
Make it Easy to Order and Transport
Promote the picnic baskets on your website, social media and in-house. Have customers order at least a day in advance for you to pack everything fresh. Provide disposable plates, napkins and cutlery in an easy-to-carry basket or insulated bag. Include a chilled gel pack to keep things cool.
Suggest Nearby Parks
Recommend a few local parks, nature preserves or recreational areas within a short drive of your restaurant where people can lounge and enjoy their meal. Some spots may even allow open containers or alcoholic beverages. Check with your local ordinances.
Build Goodwill in the Community
Takeout picnic baskets are a great way to boost exposure and build goodwill with your community. People will appreciate the opportunity to safely enjoy a meal from their favorite local restaurant in the summer sun. They’ll surely share photos of your delicious food and pleasant picnic experience on social media, providing lots of positive word-of-mouth marketing for your business.
Offering creative, interactive promotions like takeout picnic baskets shows your customers you want to enhance their experience beyond your dining room walls. It’s all about creating memories and connecting over food - even if from a distance. Picnic baskets could become your restaurant’s summer signature if done well!
So there you have it, 5 ways to spice up your summer restaurant events and really engage with your customers. Try one or try them all, but doing something to make your guests' experience more memorable and share-worthy will pay off. People love to be entertained and wowed, and they also love supporting businesses that go the extra mile. When the dog days of summer are here and people are looking for ways to beat the heat, giving them an event they'll never forget is a great way to stay at the top of their minds - and get them coming back for more. The key is to think outside the box, push the envelope, and create experiences, not just meals. With some creativity and the will to try new things, your summer events could become the talk of the town. So get out there, make it fun, and happy promoting! Your customers and your bottom line will thank you.