Going out to dinner at a restaurant is one of the pleasures of working hard. In fact, 64% of adults go out to eat at least once per week. However, you’ll find that some eateries have an easy time filling their dining rooms, while others struggle to get people to come through the door.

What keeps people at restaurants day after day?

In this article, we’re going to explore some of the techniques that famous restaurants employ to keep people eating at restaurants worldwide.

1. Self-Order Kiosks and Pay Options

Applebees may not have the world’s best food or be a 5-star restaurant, but it’s one of the most successful chain restaurants in the world. The chain’s 1,700+ locations offer a cheaper menu, but they also do something that a lot of eateries have not: ordering tablets.

people at restaurant

On tables in the restaurant, there is a tablet or mini computer that allows guests to:

  • View menu items
  • Order items
  • Pay for their meals

You still have the option of talking to a member of the waitstaff and doing all of these things, but it’s something that keeps people eating in restaurants that they own.

People want to be able to order and pay for their food in a way that works best for them. If a large soccer team comes in to eat, it can be complete chaos to understand everyone’s order. A table-top ordering system makes these times easier for the group and your wait staff.

2. After-hour Specials

People eating out may be celebrating a special occasion, and they will go to a fancy eatery. However, with consumer habits shifting, people eat out 2 – 3 times per week. The cost of eating out has risen, and this has led to consumers being more price-conscious.

Perhaps the consumer goes to another restaurant because the food is cheaper or orders a larger plate so that they can have leftovers and go out to eat less often.

However, one way to bring people to restaurants is to offer after-hour specials. 

Applebees does this very well, too. In fact, for over 20 years, people have been able to go to the restaurant and get 50% off of their appetizers after a certain time. Of course, this deal is only available when the eatery is least busy.

You can incorporate a similar practice where you offer 50% off of appetizers:

  • During slow operating hours
  • Certain days of the week

While you may lower your profit margins on these items, you’ll also lure patrons into your restaurant who will likely spend more money on ordering drinks or other food items at full price. Additionally, you’ll lower your restaurant's food waste, allowing you to sell items that would likely have spoiled instead. 

3. Loyalty Programs

Want people to keep coming back to your restaurant? Show how loyalty will help save them money. You'll find loyalty programs at eateries across the country and in many fast-food locations.

Starbucks has a reward program that has worked especially well for the coffee shop.

restaurant with people

Through the app, users are able to gain rewards for going to the store and buying their coffee or food items. This approach works well because:

  • You encourage people to download an app or provide their email address
  • You can keep promoting to these individuals

However, patrons will appreciate what it means to be loyal to your business, too. Perhaps if they spend $100, they earn a free pizza or an appetizer. You can even provide fun features for members of the loyalty program, such as discounts on certain days.

When you have loyalty programs in place, it’s a reason for people to keep coming back to your restaurant.

4. Create a Level of Customer Service That Forces People to Come Back

Restaurants have immense competition, and people are inclined to go to your competitors and discover what food they have, too. However, you might not be able to match the food quality or costs of all of your competitors.

But what you can do better is customer service.


Listen to your customers. People want an amazing experience, and you can offer this experience for them. The biggest hurdle is finding out what you can do better, but you can do the following to get inspiration:

  • Ask your patrons to take a survey (digital ones work well)
  • Sit down with patrons and ask them about their experience

You must spend time dissecting the recommendations you receive and then implementing them when they make sense. However, you need to take it one step further and take the time to train your staff.

Training is one of the most underutilized tools in customer service, especially if you have high staff turnover.

However, if you train all employees on the following, it will keep customers coming back:

  • Greeting customers 
  • Handling bad experiences
  • Creating a consistent experience 

5. Create a Seasonal Experience

Every restaurant has items that their guests love. For example, if you’re known for having the best prime ribs in the town, you don’t want to take them off the menu. However, you can keep people coming back by offering a seasonal experience.

people eating at restaurants

You can do this in numerous ways, such as:

  • Design a seasonal menu that uses local fresh food items
  • Decorate the restaurant for the season
  • Offer seasonal specials

For example, some restaurants will decorate their interior for the Christmas holiday, offer certain specials at this time of year and even have special dinners or catering options. People will continue to come into the restaurant because they want to see these changes.


The food is good, and the atmosphere is fun and exciting.

People like changes, and if you offer this to them while still providing consistent service and quality, you’ll encourage people to keep coming back to your eatery. 

People dining out isn’t a trend; it’s a way of life for many people. If you own a restaurant and want to maximize your profits, it’s important to focus on ways to keep diners coming back for more.

The tips above are a good step to fill your restaurant with people day and night.