A form of restaurant marketing, events can be extra successful when organized the right way. They help you attract huge crowds and more loyal customers. Also, if you are targeting millennial diners, a special event is the right approach. According to Eventbrite’s research, three-quarters of millennials spend more on experiences than purchasing material things. By hosting events, you can also pack your eatery on what may otherwise have been a slow night. This helps increase your bottom line as well. To inspire you to find worthwhile restaurant event ideas, we have curated the complete list of restaurant events.
How to pick the right restaurant event idea
When deciding what type of restaurant event to hold, you should consider these key things.
1. Customer profile
Knowing your customers' preferences and behavior means combining data from your POS system (aka Point of Sale) and an unbiased assessment of your target market. Are they families with children? Young, single students? Older people? Are your patrons inclined to special deals or is your area affluent?
With these considerations, you can select the most appealing event for your customer base. For example, should the restaurant business generally accommodate families with kids, speed dating will be less likely to attract customers.
Relevance to your diners aside, your restaurant event needs to be relevant to the time that you host it. For instance, a tropical patio party may not be a success on winter days.
3. Budget plan
Image: Visual Paradigm Online
To host events successfully and profitably, you need a budget plan. Learn all the expenses of planning and hosting them, including decoration, menu items, and entertainment.
You may consider events that do not cost much money. For instance, the Russia-Ukraine conflict led some eateries to build a special menu featuring Ukrainian food and donated the proceeds to charity. These good deeds brought publicity.
Some other kinds of events may cost more money. Hiring entertainment and serving expensive food or beverages are some examples.
The best restaurant event ideas to attract guests
1. Restaurant opening event ideas
Exclusive tasting event for influencers
Do a soft opening featuring local lifestyle and food influencers before your grand opening day. This helps you get more publicity and raise interest in the official opening, These private events also create a sense of exclusivity that attract people to be a part of them.
Make your big night outstanding by showing your commitment to helping the community. Just donate your proceeds and remaining food to related causes.
Reward your diners for having chosen you. For example, offer discounts, vouchers, or gift cards to your eatery.
2. Calendar event ideas
Host a costume Halloween party or an ugly Christmas sweater party. Make the most of your diner' holiday spirit!
Host a family-style night and use a special menu on Father's Day and Mother's Day. Also, consider offering activities and games aside from an expanded kids’ meal menu for Children's Day.
Throw this party a few weeks into January. You may want to serve the finest drinks and dishes. Providing discounts on the restaurant’s most resolution-ruining menu items is also a great idea.
On this quirky holiday (in early February), repeat the same actions throughout the night. Have your staff greet guests several times. Serve them the same food.
Host a love-themed event, singles night, blind tasting event, speed dating event, lock and key party, or open mic night on February 14th.
Celebrate this March 14th (aka 3/14 or “pie”) by offering up your delicious pies. Else, price a set course menu at $31.40 or some menu items at $3.14.
April Fool's Day
On April 1, play pranks on your diners or encourage guests to do the same for special deals. Or, host a comedy night and invite a famous local comedian to it. Another restaurant event idea is holding a “best joke” competition.
Star Wars Day
On May the fourth (that sounds like "may the Force”), give Star Wars fans an event with Star Wars-themed delicious food, beverages, and costumes. Consider playing the soundtrack or movies in the eatery as well.
Restaurant owners may hold Oktoberfest celebrations in early October if their establishment offers German-style dishes or beer.
Draw in hungry shoppers with Black Friday special deals. Collaborate with local shops and provide discounts for customers who have bought items from a partner retailer. Else, use non-Black Friday participation perks to attract customers who are avoiding the shopping frenzy
3. Food event ideas
Beer or wine tasting
Partner with a local brewery to offer bottle and brew tastings. Or, pair your food with the drinks and charge a flat fee for the event.
Tap takeover event
Host a tap takeover with beer brands a couple of nights a year if your restaurant has a bar. Pairing it with live music is another fantastic way to get more customers to attend.
Organize this event to experiment with your new dishes.
In the cooking class, customers can order drinks and learn how to cook a signature dish from your chef.
Guest chef night
Invite guest chefs from another restaurant to share cooking techniques.
Here, you invite two famous bartenders for a mix-off. Having the crowd vote for the winner is a great idea.
Offer special or regular menu items in supersizes to attract new customers and headlines.
Create a menu with some courses that customers can enjoy as an overall experience.
4. Themed event ideas
Throw a theme night for a particular decade. Have your employees dress up. Encourage your guests to dress up, too. Also, set up a photo booth.
Organizing a special event for only women or men will draw in groups of either gender to gather, relax and chat.
Host theme nights for millennials. Else, prepare a seniors-only special event. Subject to your eatery’s demographic, age-based events can be great to increase your customer engagement.
Arts and crafts
Serve drinks and appetizers while customers paint or draw or paint with the help of a local artist. You can hire local musicians for live music to keep guests entertained and unleash their creativity.
Murder mystery party
This special event become popular again thanks to nostalgic millennials. The restaurant owner can hold a limited-space murder mystery evening with a themed meal served.
Throw a dance party with dimmed lights and a DJ. Serve beverages and buffet with food guests can eat quickly.
Local celebrity meet-and-greet
Reach out to local celebrities and offer to hold a meet-and-greet at your eatery. You may even name dishes after them.
Take your weekly trivia nights a bit further and provide games like board games, card games, cornhole, flip cup, and beer pong.
This is a competition that regulars usually like to return to. Let the winner get a free meal.
Some examples include live music by the local musician, a comedy night, and an open mic night.
Events such as “Books and Brunch” can be an easy and affordable way to attract regulars to your place monthly or weekly.
Give loyal customers VIP access to discounts, exclusive menus, etc.
Leveraging bigger events
Get involved in events like the World Cup to entice huge crowds. Celebrate wins or losses alongside your patrons. You may like creating dishes from the sport's history as well.
5. Community event ideas
This may be a charity auction, a charity night in honor of a specific cause, a charity sports event, etc.
These include sponsoring a local team, inviting the local radio station to your premises, partnerships with other businesses, hosting pops-up at local events, holding local food events, and celebrating a local milestone.
6. Limited-time event ideas
Deal of the day
Offer a specially priced or limited menu for a short time during your eatery’s quietest hours.
You may rotate the offers available, with pasta on Mondays, wine on Fridays, etc.
Pro tip: You can edit and manage your menu (for example, dish and price updates) with just a few clicks on any device by using the QR code contactless menu from One2.
1. What are some tips that help ensure my restaurant event success?
- Spread the word
- Consider selling tickets ahead
- Staff for the event correctly
- Engage with guests after your restaurant event
2. How to market my restaurant events?
- Engage local influencers or Instagrammers
- Apply email strategies
- Encourage past attendees to share photos and videos of the event
3. How to build private events in my restaurant?
- Keep your online menu updated
- Do a soft opening
- Make use of social media
4. How to shoot photographs of events in my restaurant?
- Shoot in RAW image format
- Know when to use the flash
- Take action shots
- Meet and chat with people, then take their photo
- Frame the shot
- Avoid taking photos of guests when their mouth is open