When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, restaurants and bars were some of the hardest hit businesses. Mandates for social distancing meant fewer tables, which also meant revenue was tighter. Some restaurants simply shuttered because just keeping the doors open with the new restrictions meant losing money. However, a number of restaurants and bars have been able to not just make ends meet, but also stay successful throughout the pandemic.
POST-PANDEMIC STRATEGY: Even as businesses are thankfully opening up (as of March 2021), restaurants should take a breath, reassess their business practices and see which of these ideas may be beneficial to their business as they move forward.
This pandemic has opened up an opportunity for restaurants to boost their online presence by offering merchandise, gift certificates, and more. If restaurants were uncertain to do so before, adding an online menu and ordering service can be a new path for additional revenue. Many customers have been willing to help out and purchase extra items and merchandise to support their local businesses.
There are numerous printing companies that can take your logo and put it on a mug, a t-shirt or many other items. You choose what you want to sell and add to your website. The printing company take care of the inventory and shipping. Once set up, you don’t have to do anything else but bring in sales. And then you share the revenue with them. If you need help setting this up, let is know.
Partnering with a Local Delivery Service and Pick-Up
Companies like Postmates, GrubHub and DoorDash offered a way for restaurants to still serve food to people who were quarantining. Although convenient, be aware of the delivery fees of these services which can run high in some areas.
Some restaurants who wanted to avoid paying those companies have integrated their own delivery services, resulting in keeping or hiring new staff. Some restaurants have offered a pick-up service in a “COVID-safe” environment. This allowed restaurants to stay open and make revenue, while also building up goodwill within their communities by shifting their marketing to “support local businesses.”
Build your Brand using Social Media
Many restaurants focused on social media engagements via Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok announcing their specials of the day and letting their followers know that food was available for pick-up or delivery. Some went so far as to develop their own apps so people could order food right from their smartphones.
This pandemic has given restaurants and other businesses the opportunity to make lemon-aid out of lemons. Ask customers to follow your business. Run a contest for free food item. Showcase your food to the world and expand your following which will lead to future engagement and sales.
Video Content Changed Everything
The pandemic drove restaurants and bars to become very innovative, and video played a key role. Restaurants and bars made videos to paste on social media such as TikTok to show people how their signature dishes and drinks were made, and to showcase their staff. This gave establishments a very human touch, and between monetizing the videos and letting people know those items were available to order, restaurants and bars were able to grow their local audiences and increase sales.
Bars offered Curbside Service
Drinking in public… legally… is something that’s typically reserved for places like New Orleans. However, local bars also serve an important place in towns and cities across the US, and some states were flexible in allowing customers to pick up drinks at the door and take them home, or maintain safe distances from other patrons.
Make sure you know all local regulations and don’t drink and drive!
Support the Community
Some restaurants have also used excess food to help others in need in their community. Some have packaged extra food to food banks and others have offered food to senior communities or homeless shelters.
Note that in Los Angeles alone, during the last year, over 900,000 families each month have received food supplies from the Los Angeles Food Bank, which is just one of many food banks in Southern California. The Our Saviour Center in El Monte has seen the families with food insecurities raise tremendously and are always looking to partner with local restaurants.
Restaurants and bars used their space as venues for musicians and artists to perform and show their work. People could donate to musicians during live- streaming events, or purchase art, while the restaurant or bar holding the event took a small cut. This helped to build a sense of community, while also generating revenue for restaurants, bars, and creatives.
Bringing your restaurant to the digital space
The pandemic has been very hard on restaurants and bars, but with a strong digital strategy, local establishments can thrive and build a stronger connection to their customers and communities. At CR Digital Solutions, we work with local restaurants and bars to get them noticed online so they can stay successful throughout the pandemic, and have an edge moving forward. From site design to social media, content, SEO, and more, CR Digital has you covered.