6 ways to get your restaurant ready for summer

There's still time to plan for the warmer months. This article covers the top 6 ways you can get your restaurant ready for summer.

Restaurants, here's how to get your restaurant ready for summer

Summer is almost upon us, bringing longer days and more business for restaurants.

Right now, your customers are gearing up for refreshing happy hours, Summer Fridays, and delicious meals out with friends. Tourists on vacation will bring in new faces and sales. And orders will be flying in on Labor Day—which is one of the busiest days for food delivery. 

Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21, so there’s still time to refresh your restaurant for the warmer months. This article will cover the top 6 ways you can get your restaurant ready for summer. 

6 ways to get your restaurant ready for summer

1. “Summerfy” your menu: 

When it comes to updating your menu for summer, let the seasonal produce guide you! Think berries, corn, cherries, squash, peaches, plums, butter lettuce, cucumbers, etc.  Bonus points if you can partner with a local farmers market to source seasonal produce — offering your customers the freshest options and promoting environmentally-friendly options.

Assess your most popular items and see if there are any seasonal ingredients you can add. Many people love to order salads in the summer, and an easy way to give your menu a summer twist is swapping out in-season ingredients.

Another summer staple is Seafood (which is often  easier to get (and cheaper) in the summer). If your restaurant offers fish, make sure to feature seafood at the top of your menu during this time of year.

Another great way to “summerfy” your menu is to add small bites to your happy hour deals. When it comes to happy hour, make sure to serve seasonal drinks such as vodka lemonade, spicy margaritas, fresh mint mojitos, colorful sangria, piña coladas, and aperol spritz. So many favorites for those who enjoy a good beverage!

As you may know, the sober curious movement is on the rise, meaning many potential customers are looking for good spots to drink if they're alcohol-free or friends with someone who is. Adding mocktails to your menu is a modern, easy way to ensure all customers can join in on the summer perks. 

2. Decorate your patio

If you have an outdoor area, it’s time to get those fairy lights and plants out to create a vibe. Stick to a classic summer theme, think watermelon or tiki drink glasses, or lean into a more modern twist with an instagrammable neon sign. Remember, people love to show off their outings so why not give them the backdrop to make it happen? 

You can also:

  • Add some backyard games to your patio or even table games to give your guests a fun way to interact and keep ordering more
  • Get clever with chalkboard signs on your bar or on the outside sidewalk to entice new customers in
  • Play some feel-good music to keep those good vibes going
  • Keep a full water jug with colorful cups to help quench your customer’s thirst and save your servers time

3. Make a game-plan for staffing your restaurant

Summer hiring can be challenging with a tight labor market. Since the restaurant labor shortage is predicted to continue into 2022, it’s good to think about summer staffing and hiring. According to the National Restaurant Association, “If employers can successfully incentivize teenagers and young adults to get off the sidelines and into the workforce this summer, the goal of a fully staffed restaurant may be achievable.”

With or without a full staff, it’s a good idea to use restaurant technology to help support your team.

Restaurant technology can help your staff succeed in both small and big ways. Implementing tech at different touchpoints is a proven way to combat labor shortages, manage operations, and make your staff's lives easier. Check out our latest articles on restaurant tech to learn everything you need to know: 

4. Run summer promotions 

Running promotions is a great way to kick off summer and entice new and existing customers. Create limited-time offers for happy hour, brunch, and parties over 5 to create FOMO and get your customers excited. 

Reach out to local businesses near you to host a summer event—for example, a bookstore can host a reading at your restaurant, or an ice-cream shop can sponsor a summer party. 

You can also use social media to drive engagement and new sales through promotions. For example, you can create a Summer Date Night giveaway for a free meal for two (to enter, people have to tag a friend and the restaurant in their story). This gets more eyes on your restaurant in a digital way.

In addition, including promotions on third-party apps is an excellent incentive for more customers to order from your restaurant. Running promotions on food delivery apps can help boost your chances of showing up on the front page of each app.

If running promotions on your own sounds a little overwhelming or time-consuming, let the team at Otter take that off your plate with our marketing automation solution, Boost. Learn how to increase sales through Boost’s automated promotions without lifting a finger here

5. Make a social media calendar

Did you know 90% of customers research a restaurant online before dining—more than any other business type? Enhancing your restaurant’s digital presence is crucial to staying competitive in 2022

Before making the social media calendar, ensure your information is up-to-date. For example, if your Google My Business profile is fully optimized? Are your restaurant hours, FAQ, and current menu listed accurately across platforms? Does your restaurant website need a revamp? 

After all information is accurate and up to date, take a look at themed summer dates (national ice cream day, national tequila day, etc.) and plan unique content around that. While it’s hard to prioritize amidst the endless restaurant to-dos, planning ahead can help you stay consistent on Instagram, Tiktok, and Facebook.

Add dates early to your social media calendar like the Summer solstice, National Martini Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Encourage customers to take photos at your restaurant to create user-generated content (UGC) to repost your stories. Post delicious food photography and discounts to get people through the door—or order from home. Here are some other resources to master restaurant marketing today:

6. Manage reviews and make more money with insights 

Did you know people are most likely to read reviews for restaurants and cafes over any other type of business? You must answer every thought since 45% of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a company if it responds to negative reviews. Use Otter’s 10 review response templates for your restaurant (positive & negative!) to answer quickly. 

Otter Insights gives you a 360 view of your restaurant business to understand the reasons behind order issues and eliminate order errors. You can also see the best times for your business in the summer months. 

You can find Otter Insights in the “Insights” tab within your Business Manager account if you’re already an Otter customer. If you haven’t signed up for Otter yet, you can get started with our free Insights tool in just a few seconds!

Overall, we hope these 6 tips help your restaurant prepare for the summer of 2022! If you’re looking for a partner in all things delivery and beyond, fill out the form below to get started for free. 

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