Every restaurant has at least one slow night. But with a bit of creativity and the right restaurant promotion, you can turn these slow nights around and get more customers through your door. Here are seven restaurant promotion ideas to boost your slow evenings.

7 Restaurant Promotion Ideas for Slow Nights

There are many ways to get customers through your doors on a slow night. Here are seven restaurant promo ideas to boost business on your slowest days.

restaurant specials ideas

1. Have a Weekly Charity Dinner

Hosting a weekly charity dinner is a great way to encourage customers to dine at your restaurant and give back to the community. 

You don’t even have to change a thing about your service. Simply provide 10% of the evening’s sales to a local charity.

For customers, it’s a great excuse to enjoy a meal while supporting a good cause. It’s just the motivation they need to get out of the house for dinner.

To maximize the benefits of this restaurant's promotion, choose local causes, like kids programs, schools, neighborhood redevelopment programs, etc. Choose a different charity every week to keep things fresh and appeal to more locals. Also, be sure to reach out to the charities you want to work with to promote the event.

Charity organizations are very well-connected and will help spread the word.

If you want to take a step further, consider inviting the organization to provide a bartender for the evening (if you have a bar). Your guest bartender can create special cocktails to serve to your guests. Tips and a portion of the sales will go to the charity organization.

Weekly charity dinners are a really great way to drum up business on a slow night and help support local causes. Those who attend will be far more likely to dine at your restaurant in the future because they appreciate your support of these local organizations.

2. Host Live Music

Live music events aren’t new. Most restaurants host them. But there’s a reason why they do – because they attract customers.

If you’re short of ideas on how to boost business on slow nights, consider hosting music nights on these days.

Live music events can be tricky, though. You need to understand your customers and the atmosphere you’re trying to create. Choose genres and artists you know your patrons will enjoy. Acoustic guitar or even classical music can work well for most restaurants.

Try working with local artists if you can.

Music is also known to increase appetite, so this is another reason to host music nights. Customers may wind up spending more simply because they want to stick around and watch the show.

lunch promotion ideas

3. Hold a Tasting Event

Tasting events are a great way to attract new customers and convince loyal patrons to visit more often.

The great thing about tastings is that you can go in any direction you please. You don’t necessarily have to host wine tastings.

You can use tasting events as lunch promotion ideas or food promotion ideas if you want to introduce your restaurant to new customers.

Food-based tastings can have special menus with dishes that aren’t usually on the main menu. This will give customers even more of an incentive to drop in. Make sure these dishes are truly special. Consider hiring a guest chef and having a theme for the menu.

Of course, you can also host a wine or beer-tasting event. The right one for your restaurant will depend on your audience, but either one can draw a crowd.

4. Hold Competitions

Everyone loves a good competition. Why not host a friendly game on your slow night? These kinds of events are great for not only drumming up business but also giving customers a chance to socialize and mingle.

What kinds of competitions can you hold?

  • Trivia night
  • Poker tournaments
  • Bar Olympics

Choose competitions that you know your patrons will love, and they’ll be more likely to come out on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening.

5. Hold Fun Events

People want to escape the normal hustle and bustle when they go into a restaurant. Eating out is as much about food as it is about socializing and having fun. If you want to keep patrons coming in the door during slow nights, one thing you can do is hold fun events.

What types of events can you hold:

  • Arts and crafts: Work with a local instructor who will come in for the night and teach people how to do arts and crafts. For example, you can have a painter come in and have a wine/painting night. These events are immensely popular and a fantastic way to keep people coming in the door.
  • Dance night: People love to dance, and you can hold a dance night. Open up the floor, play great music and encourage people to dance the night away.
  • Magic night: Magicians can help keep everyone from kids to adults entertained. You can hire a local magician and make an event out of it. 

On top of these events, you can also hold theme nights.

food promotion ideas

6. Have Theme Nights

Restaurant promotional ideas shouldn’t be without theme nights. You can create a lot of buzz and bring patrons in the door with theme nights. Perhaps once a month or every six months, you hold:

  • 70s theme night
  • 90s theme night
  • 40s theme night
  • Etc.

You can request patrons to come into your restaurant, have a dress code and create a menu that matches the theme.

If you don’t want to do an “era” theme night, you can make a list of your own themes. A few of the great theme ideas that you can choose from include:

  • Lady’s night
  • Guy's night
  • Dance night
  • Holiday themes
  • Karaoke night
  • Costume party

Of course, you can add to these theme night ideas and 

7. Leverage Holidays

One of the restaurant promotion ideas that works almost 100% of the time is to leverage holidays. You can target two main groups:

  1. Normal patrons
  2. Businesses

When holidays are coming up, you need to start brainstorming restaurant specials ideas. You can begin to:

  • Add menu items
  • Build holiday packages
  • Hold executive events

For example, near Valentine’s Day, you can offer a couple’s package to customers. These packages sell very well. You can also hold a contest, such as the best Halloween costume, and offer the winner a gift card or something similar.

Restaurant promotion ideas offer you an opportunity to fill your space on slow nights.