How To Get Your Restaurant Involved In More Community Events

How To Get Your Restaurant Involved In More Community Events

Community involvement sets your restaurant apart as a pillar in your community.

The successful restaurant differentiates itself from the crowd. The savvy restaurant owner devises a plan to keep his restaurant in the forefront of people’s minds.

A great way to set your restaurant apart and establish yourself as a community brand, is to get involved in community events. You can reach out to your partners, event holders in your community and the local Chamber of Commerce.

Hosting branded events or getting involved with other community events creates an emotional connection with your customers. Diners are influenced by their emotions when choosing a place to eat. Whether they know it or not, how they feel about your brand enhances their decision to choose your restaurant.

While traditional marketing certainly works, incorporating a community arm to your marketing will pay for itself several times over.

The Strategic Business Network says, “Networking is the single most powerful marketing tactic to accelerate and sustain success for any organization!”

Getting involved in more community events is a great way to network in your city. (tweet this) Sound complicated? It’s not. It, like most marketing, takes a bit of creativity and some planning.

Here’s how to get your restaurant involved in more community events.

Use Your Chamber of Commerce

Create community partnerships, and you’ll stimulate business at your restaurant, garner free publicity and promote your restaurant without spending money on costly advertising. How? Contact your local Chamber of Commerce.

Here are some avenues that your Chamber can help you pursue:

  • Tell them you are willing to offer a meeting room, host events or cater dinners to business associations.
  • Ask about ways you can partner with businesses to help local charities.
  • Explore ways to offer apprenticeships to local high schools or colleges to provide free training. The publicity will be terrific.
  • Participate in city-run festivals. These generate great publicity.

Participate in Local Events

Get a city-wide calendar and look for community events. You can participate in food fairs, zoo benefits and festivals. You’ll increase your brand awareness with your presence. Plus, these events will often feature you in their advertising materials.

Set up a booth, and you can sell sample sizes of your best dishes. This gets you out in the community and helps put a real face to your restaurant.

Host a Charity Event

Hosting a charity event is a win-win for your restaurant. Sit down with your staff and choose an organization that means a lot to you. Decide how you’ll support them. Here are some ways:

  • Hold an event at your restaurant to benefit the charity.
  • Offer a space for monthly board meetings.
  • Pick a day and advertise that 10% of every tab goes to the charity.
  • Designate a special drink or menu item. Give the profits from the dish to the charity.
  • If money allows, offer to sponsor a charity event. This often means shelling out some money to have your logo on their T-Shirt or a center-stage booth.

Host Cooking Demos and Classes in the Community

Holding cooking classes or demos at a foodie festival is one avenue, but consider hosting them out and about around town.

Perhaps your local newspaper, magazine or TV station is hosting an event, or a bookstore is hosting a literary event. Just imagine the local bookstore that’s promoting a new cookbook with its author. Find out if you can partner up with them and offer a demo of items from the book.

You could partner with a liquor store for a wine-tasting. You can offer the hors d’oeuvres or even dessert. How about a fashion show? You can set up shop offering food to go along with the clothing. Is there a local cookware store you can team up with?

Keep your eyes open for opportunities to feature your food and your chef. It’s all about staying in front of the community so you can subtly promote your restaurant.

Get Your Restaurant Involved

Building relationships in your community gets more people in the door of your restaurant.

Case Study: Islands Fine Burgers and Drinks

Islands restaurants in California says, “Supporting our local communities is a big part of who we are.” They have made a commitment to giving back and have done so to the tune of more than a half a million dollars each year. Islands supports local elementary schools, community programs and youth and adult teams.

They also have partnered with Outdoor Outreach to provide outdoor programming for at-risk and underprivileged youth so they can get outside and enjoy the sun, surf and beach.

Their involvement in community events has made them a pillar in their communities and helped to set them apart from the competition.

Case Study: Chipotle Cultivate

Almost everyone knows about Chipotle and appreciates their dedication to local farmers, local food and sustainability.

But did you know that they have their own festival? They created a traveling festival, Chipotle Cultivate, to promote local sourcing, national chefs, incredible music, and a kid’s area that teaches kids about growing food.

They’ve helped create a real sense of community in the cities they hold Chipotle Cultivate.

They highlight the relationship with food and music while teaching people how important it is to use great food, especially emphasizing sustainability and farm-to-table.

Their festival connects with people on an emotional level and celebrates the idea of nurturing people and helping them grow and appreciate local farmers. It’s food, music and idea for people of all ages. Chipotle’s involvement in the community connects good food options to real people in cities all over America.

While this type of festival may be out of your reach as a local restaurant, you can start something like it on a smaller scale in your own community. After all, who doesn’t connect to great food and super music?

The Take-Away

Building relationships in your community and networking helps you get more people in your door. (tweet this) When restaurants get involved in the community, it also boosts customer loyalty. People feel good eating somewhere they have an emotional investment.

Seeing your restaurant involved in local community events and with area charities gives them an emotional connection with your restaurant. This helps you stand out in their mind and reminds them that your restaurant is the place to eat.

Have you made a point to get your restaurant involved in more community events? If so, what worked and what didn’t? We’d love to share your experiences with our viewers. Please comment below!

Images: Robert Lindsell and Ryan Benoit

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