Pack Your Summer with Special Events
Bringing the party brings in the business
Summer months bring out the best in pretty much everything: people, fresh produce, baseball and even restaurants. Although business naturally picks up when the weather warms up, adding a roster of special events to drive revenue is a good practice. Outdoor patios, sidewalk cafes, chef gardens or private rooms allow for more guests, more fun and more money.
Kevin Hickey, chef/owner of Duck Inn Chicago, is well known for hosting a rotating lineup of events throughout the summer at his establishment. “We have a substantial outdoor area and wanted to capitalize on the short, but very popular, summer season in Chicago,” he says. “The key is creating special events that are different from our regular service and wind up being supplemental to the revenue we would have otherwise realized.”
Even better for Hickey is that these events run alongside regular operations, so the profits are truly supplemental. “The idea was to augment regular business so all of the events are occurring parallel to normal operations. We will open on Monday when we’re off as well to accommodate events.”
Hickey, along with other creative restaurateurs, have inspired us to come up with the following list of events you could host at your restaurant this summer:
1. Hawaiian Luau
On a monthly basis, Duck Inn Chicago roasts a whole suckling pig, salads, rice and drink specials for a reasonable all-in price.
2. Clam Bakes
Flanders Fish Market in East Lyme, Conn., will bring the clam bake to you, while the restaurant remains open seven days a week.
3. Crawfish Boil
Proof & Cooper restaurant in Austin, Texas, hosts all day parties with crawfish by the pound, buckets of beer from local breweries and music.
4. Rosé All Day
Summer is the most appropriate time to drink pink, so how about a patio rosé bar? Put some small bites on special and open early before outdoor seating gets packed.
5. Wild Salmon Bake
Duck Inn hosts salmon bakes throughout the summer paired with Oregon pinot noirs.
When planning your calendar, Hickey warns, “unique selling points are what it’s all about. It can’t be something you can get at the restaurant regularly. If we only serve pizza outside on Wednesdays, it becomes special. Don’t mess with it once it starts to work; it will only confuse people and you’ll lose the momentum.”