Anthony likes helping people reach their true potential. Being the victim of his own fears and insecurities in his own business, he has decided to help others create more opportunities.
As every restaurant owner knows, an empty chair is expensive! In a majority of restaurants, it’s hard to make any money before 5pm. Attracting customers in your premises outside of breakfast, lunch and dinner times is like asking them to change their habits, which is no easy feat. Rather than slashing your prices and reducing your profits, why not try a novel and different approach? Let’s go through three original ideas that can raise awareness about your restaurant and make it more profitable at the same time.
Turn your restaurant into a coworking space
Monetising your restaurant during off-peak hours, isn’t that exciting? This is what Spacious has done in the US with partner restaurants. Even in France, which is not known for innovating fast, a similar system has seen the light of day. A startup called Frenchwork provides a directory of restaurants that offer a coworking space.
Preston Pesek, cofounder of Spacious, got the idea for his company when noticing an empty restaurant. It just dawned on him that in New-York, there were a lot of empty restaurants before 5pm. With half of New-York’s workforce set to become freelancers, he is confident the company will grow exponentially and eventually expand to the UK.
The unique strength of a system like Spacious is that it gives freelancers access to a variety of places, at a lower cost. A Spacious membership costs $97 per month in the US. If we compare that to the typical monthly fee charged by coworking spaces in London, it’s almost three times cheaper.
The way they operate is that they offer a financial compensation to restaurants willing to open their doors to freelancers and remote workers, who pay a monthly subscription to be able to work in those restaurants.
Why coworking has a bright future
In 2015, there were almost two million freelancers in the UK, and that number has been growing fast (study link).
Stimulated by the same goals (to be free of hierarchy, to create extra income, to decide of their own working hours, etc.), these wandering workers have common needs. Some want to break from isolation, others seek to create a network of professionals or even friends, or to gather regularly with their peers or their customers. Merely finding a space better suited for work than a mere corner in the kitchen of their flat can be enough.
This is where coworking spaces come into play. These workspaces have been reinvented for the new generation of workers to gather. According to The Global Coworking Survey, 80% of coworking spaces are looking to expand in the UK alone. As an undeniably growing market, it has naturally caught the attention of several start-ups.
How to cater to freelancers
As a restaurant, you don’t have to revolutionise everything to start welcoming freelancers at certain times. Some restaurants in London have already included a coworking membership in their services. This article shows you six restaurants that already offer coworking spaces as a supplement to their business.
For your place to be fit for freelancers, it has to be the right size, have some decent lighting, a wifi access, and should be ideally located. If you can tick these boxes, offering a coworking space is an ideal way to increase public awareness for your restaurant, and to gain new clients while improving your bottom-line.
According to Jérôme Introvigne, founder of FrenchWork, a restaurant can make almost £2000 extra every month that way. If you are not really into offering a coworking space though, there are other solutions.
Host an art exhibition in your restaurant
Marcel Rouff, a French poet and gourmet in the nineteenth century, said that cooking was the art of tasting, just as painting was the art of seeing and music, that of hearing.
Whether you subscribe to his vision or not, you can’t help but recognise that sometimes cooking belongs to the arts, especially as it awakens the senses and stirs emotions. It is therefore unsurprising that some restaurants have mixed the visual art with the tasting art.
- Pied à terre, a Michelin star boutique restaurant in London, took the idea a step further by having a resident artist. If you want your restaurant to be high end, it can definitely add something to the experience of your guests. If your place is more the casual type, however, there are plenty of artists looking for a place to exhibit their work.
- Some blogs encourage artists who are starting out to showcase their work in cafés and restaurants. Acting as venue has the benefit of welcoming new people into your place, and getting paid for it.
- Bol’Appétit, a restaurant in Saint-Etienne (France) proposes a unique partnership between them and the artists they show. They offer them the opportunity to have their own dedicated web page on the official site of the restaurant. This gives a space to the artist, and creates traffic for the restaurant owner. In other words, everybody wins.
Exhibition of artist Gérard Bouguin in Bol-Appétit.
With the flexibility that this offers, you can:
- Have one or several walls dedicated to permanent art exhibitions.
- Host infrequent art exhibitions as you please.
- Turn your restaurant into an “ephemeral art gallery” as part of a communication operation or short-term partnership.
On top of entertaining your clients, this kind of project can help you:
- Attract new clients passionate about art.
- Raise awareness about your place (in the local press, blogs, etc.)
- Provide you with great communication opportunities on social media, with nice pictures to share.
- Create partnerships (with art galleries, local artists and associations).
- Find fresh content for your website (which is great to get more organic traffic).
And if welcoming freelancers or hosting art exhibitions don’t appeal to you, there is still the option of offering cooking workshops.
Offer cooking workshops in your restaurant
Cooking workshops are always quite popular. Whether you are a local bistrot, a Michelin star restaurant, or a pizzeria, offering a relevant cooking workshop will allow you to:
- Make sure more people know about you.
- Entertain people in your restaurant during off-peak hours.
- Make your working space more profitable.
- Reveal your personality or your chef’s a little more.
- Be transparent about what you do with your customers by giving them access to your kitchen.
You can offer cooking workshops according to:
- Seasons: a winter menu, a detox menu after Christmas, a slim-down menu before the summer.
- Traditional celebrations: how to make an aphrodisiac cocktail for Valentine’s day, or a traditional Christmas pudding.
- Your target market: a cupacke workshop for children, and a 100% vegetarian menu.
- And of course your chef’s specialties and menu items.
Picture of a cooking class at Caffé Caldesi, we thank Jim for kindly giving us this picture.
Caffé Caldesi offers cooking courses. They have done so well that they have two places now and have extended their courses throughout the country. While your ambitions may not be as high as theirs, you can start with a workshop on a classic menu item that you have.
Similarly, Limewood Hotel invite some of their guests backstage to show them key cooking skills. You can see a schedule of their courses on their website. If you dedicate a space on yours for your cooking workshops, you may end up attracting people searching for “cooking classes” instead of the classic “restaurant nearby,” which only gets most restaurants on the thirteenth page of Google.
Regardless of your target market, concept, or location, you can use one or more of these ideas to make your restaurant more profitable while raising awareness towards it at the same time.
Have you tried one or more of these ideas? Please share your feedback with us.