Omnichannel Strategies to Boost Your Restaurant’s Sales

Meeting the latest diner needs to thrive and survive

As restaurants respond to an increasingly difficult business environment by raising prices during the last year, diners are reacting too. They’re simply going out less, choosing quality over quantity and new or good experiences over mundane ones, according to a recent report by financial consulting firm AlixPartners.

How to pivot and adjust? Find new ways to entertain guests and meet them wherever they want to be met.

If guests want to buy food or other products online, set up a virtual store.

If restaurant goers are looking for new experiences, team up with chefs from other restaurants.

If customers want restaurant-quality food at parties or work functions, improve or launch a catering arm.

Online Ordering

Improving technology to offer online ordering post-pandemic has opened the door for restaurants to do more.  Enter restaurants as lifestyle brands, selling signature ingredients, kitchen gear favorites and branded merchandise.

Visit the website for Momofuku, David Chang’s restaurant empire. The menu on the left doesn’t start with a link to reservations or a list of his restaurants, but a link to the company’s online shop, which features candy bars, condiments, noodles and more.

Smaller businesses have seen the benefits of online stores as well. For Surbhi Sahni, chef and co-owner of Tagmo, an Indian restaurant in New York City, online retail is an essential part of her business, including lines of mithai, spiced nuts, spices and porcelain candleholders, among other merchandise.

The online market is considerably more profitable than the restaurant, she says, although business is less consistent, with the most traffic during the Indian holiday of Diwali, but kitchen staff can handle preparation of the retail products throughout most of the year, allowing her to offset costs. She hires extra help in the run-up to Diwali and has separate staff to handle shipping.

Restaurants Getting Creative With Online Ordering

Seasonal merchandise, such as the six-foot-tall inflatable spider doughnut during Halloween

From Dunkin’ locations nationwide

T-shirts, shorts and hats in collaboration with rapper Fat Joe under the “Night Castle” brand promoting late-night dining

From White Castle locations nationwide

Wines, products from celebrity chef friends, dish towels and other kitchen-themed items also available in the restaurant’s cellar shop

From owners Michael and Tara Gallina of Winslow’s Table in St. Louis

Collaborate With Local Restaurants and Brands

Chefs are increasingly working with other chefs to prepare special dinners together, turning the meals into events while leveraging their collaborators’ fans.

Gracias Madre, a Mexican restaurant in Newport Beach, California, celebrated the holiday Dia de Los Muertos with a special dinner with Guest Chef Shachi Mehra of Adya, an Indian restaurant in the same Orange County city. The vegetarian meal included tostadas with tres chiles salsa and the Indian cracker papadum with mango chutney, followed by a roasted butternut squash salad with guajillo chiles and mint raita dressing. Indian vegetable pakora fritters were served beside oyster mushroom “chicharrones,” and a coconut chickpea curry with green rice and basil-marinated tomatoes showed influence from both cuisines.

Following this third collaboration between the two restaurants, Adya Executive Chef and partner Mehra said the events were popular and a great way to build the morale of her cooks. “The synergy between Indian and Mexican cuisines always make these dinners a sell-out event,” she says. “I love the opportunity to be introduced to loyal guests from a like-minded restaurant, but more than that, these collaborative dinners give me and my culinary team an outlet to be creative beyond our restaurant menu.”

Popular Brand Collabs

Birdie G’s nod to Jewish Americana and Southern cooking heads east to Atoboy, a modern Korean tasting menu format in New York City 

From Chef/Owner Jeremy Fox of the Santa Monica, California restaurant and Chef/Co-Owner Junghyun JP Park

Two popular but different restaurants team up at a cocktail bar in New York City: From Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park, which provided cocktails along with the venue Shinji, and Chef Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme, which served Mexican street snacks, such as farro esquites and seafood tostadas.

Catering as Another Revenue Stream

Off-premise dining is now the sweet spot between large-scale events and takeout for two. Customers can place orders online without contacting catering staff, which reduces labor.

Some publicly traded restaurant companies are reporting double-digit growth in catering, and smaller operators are also seeing success, such as Detroit-based concept Savvy Sliders, whose 24-packs of miniature beef, chicken and falafel sandwiches are a hit at office events, school functions and even weddings.

“Catering not only allows people to enjoy their favorite restaurant or bakery, but also lets them share their love of that business,” says Zachary Schmahl, founder of Schmackary’s, a cookie shop in New York City. “When someone really loves your products, they want to let people know how good they are by having it at whatever event they are throwing.” Schmahl also sees catering, large and small, as advertising. “It gets our cookies in the hands of many different people … and we get paid for it, which is great.”

Successful Catering Offerings

Seasonal Asian salad, marinated cucumbers, General Tso’s cauliflower, beef chow fun and other renditions of Taiwanese soul food for eight to 20-plus people

From Chef/Owner David Kuo of Little Fatty in Los Angeles

The $29 hot dog with condiments in shareable portions (since going viral), along with salads and sandwiches on house-baked bread

From Chef/Owner Alex Stupak of Mischa in New York City

Solid white lychee wood charcoal and branded merchandise

From Chefs Corey Lee and Jeong-In Hwang of Sanhowon in San Francisco