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Newsletter #1029: The “More than Just a Restaurant” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Restaurants have a lot of the same stuff you might have, like a strategic location, operating expenses, inventory, and busy and slow times. They’re also in a tough industry where you have to get creative to compete.

Here’s how three different restaurants are making the most of what they’ve got to bring more customers in:

1. A drop-off spot
2. A sidewalk sale
3. A place to play bridge
4. Check it out: Brunch City

1. A drop-off spot

Chances are, if you’re going on a road trip, you’re going to pass plenty of Waffle Houses on the way. And now, they’re using their convenient, right-off-the-highway locations to turn their diners into delivery drop-off spots. Waffle House is partnering with Roadie, the “Uber of package delivery,” so that travellers can pick up and drop off packages to make a little cash (and eat a couple waffles) on their road trips.

The lesson: We’re talking about Waffle House here — not some cool start up or hipster restaurant. Yet despite being the diner you usually see in front of a Motel 6, Waffle House is using their best asset to be a part of innovative, exciting stuff.

Learn more: The Verge

2. A sidewalk sale

Restaurants have a lot of overhead: plates, utensils, pots, pans, glassware, silverware. And this stuff doesn’t last forever either. As table cloths wear out or coffee mugs chip, restaurants have to replace them. But at Cotogna and Quince, two neighboring restaurants in San Francisco, they use this aging inventory as an opportunity. They set out gently used stuff for their annual “Smallwares Sidewalk Sale” and invite the community to shop, catch some brunch, and help them clean house.

The lesson: Now that’s how you take a problem and turn it into clever marketing. They’re saving a little money, bringing people into their restaurant, and getting rid of stuff they don’t want all at the same time.

Learn more: Restaurant Business

3. A place to play bridge

The dead zone between lunch and dinner is a slow time for most restaurants. But at Fazoli’s, an Italian food franchise, from 2:00-5:00 PM they let the elderly community know it’s officially bridge time. They invite bridge-loving seniors to come in during this off-time to gather, play bridge, and get free Italian lemon ice. For the customers, they get in a lot of social interaction and a chance to eat before the usual dinner crowd shows up.

The lesson: How can you use your off hours or slow times to serve a group in your community?

Learn more: The BridgeTable

4. Check it out: Brunch City

Can you recognize these tiny paper cityscapes perched on top of the foods they’re famous for?

Check it out: Brunch City

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