Historically, August is a rough month for restaurant sales. And for the past few years, we’ve been on a rollercoaster, seeing higher sales that are driven not by traffic, but by increases in check size. With same store sales trending down, heading into an August slump can be nerve-racking. Experts say restaurants have two strong choices: increase traffic and strengthen to-go offerings.
We’ve got some promotional ideas intended to attract guests and boost sales in August, and inspire your monthly specials planning moving forward.
National Sandwich Month and National Panini Month
Whoever thought August should be National Panini Month and National Sandwich Month must have thought it was the best idea since sliced bread. And that is, by the way, the technical difference between sandwiches and panini – panini are not made with sliced bread. Instead, the bread is cut horizontally and filled with ingredients before being pressed. No matter how you stack it, both provide great opportunities for you to promote your panini and/or sell more of your sandwiches during August. From a classic turkey club to the beloved New Orleans muffuletta, there are plenty of ways to pepper creative sandwich specials into your restaurant’s offerings throughout August.
Even better, sandwiches and paninis are the perfect picnic food and ideal for takeout and delivery orders. TD2nK Black Box research shows that restaurants posting positive sales this summer seem to have higher to-go sales than others, so use these themes to boost your off-premise sales.
Whether you promote the most popular panini already on your menu or you create a new “sandwich of the week,” be sure to tag your enticing social media images with the appropriate hashtags: #NationalPaniniMonth #NationalSandwichMonth.
August 8: National Zucchini Day
Think zucchini noodles are just a passing fad? The success of the 2018 “zoodles” launch at Noodles & Company might cause you to reconsider. The trendy product attracted more customers and performed better than expected, kicking off four quarters of growth. Rewards Network program restaurant Davio’s also made a splash with their gluten-free menu, which included a popular zucchini noodle dish with wild mushrooms. Bountiful in the summer, zucchini are lower-cost ingredients than some other carb substitutes like almond flour pasta or shirataki noodles. Having them on your menu demonstrates your commitment to menu customization or accommodating special diets, both increasingly important to restaurant customers. Preparation doesn’t require any additional expertise — you can quickly carve your zucchini using a spiralizer. Then, sauté the zucchini noodles and toss with a favorite sauce and other ingredients. And what better day could there be to introduce this special than #ZucchiniDay? #zucchini #zoodles
August 10: National S’mores Day
Tableside s’mores. Need we say more? Restaurant guests seem unable to resist the nostalgia of this campfire treat, no matter what season. Some will even pay premium to grill their own dessert over hot coals, a mini-hibachi, or a patio fire pit or table. Get creative with your s’mores menu to increase restaurant sales. Of course the tried-and-true s’mores combo is marshmallows, milk chocolate, and graham crackers. Up the ante with housemade marshmallow or graham crackers, special toppings, or even ice cream. Really, every day should be #NationalSmoresDay. #smores
August 15: Julia Child’s Birthday
An inspiration for countless professional and home chefs around the world, Julia Child is still one of the most celebrated figures in the culinary world. So if she inspired you, your restaurant team, or your customers, it’s fitting that you celebrate her birthday at your restaurant. If you already specialize in French cuisine or have French inspired-dishes on your menu, you can highlight them in a restaurant promotion, like a prix fixe menu. If not, have no fear – just like Julia had no fear in the kitchen! Create French-inspired limited-time offers to attract customers. Choose from crowd-pleasers like escargot, crêpes, steak frites, or crème brûlée. Channel the French cooking maven through one of her famous recipes like boeuf Bourguignon, bouillabaisse, cheese soufflé. Or how about her exceptional Reine de Saba, the ultimate chocolate birthday cake! #JuliaChild
August 22: Eat a Peach Day & August 24: Peach Pie Day
There is nothing quite like a good peach. Best eaten in season, the sweet juices dripping down your chin evoke summer at its finest. Sweet, aromatic, velvety — the mention of a peach can trigger hunger and cravings. There are many varieties as well as cousins like the nectarine. So why not celebrate with creative menu options? Peaches enhance nearly any summer salad or breakfast dish. Grilled peaches partner beautifully with string beans and most heirloom beans (like dragon tongue), and oh, the dessert options! You could go with your grandma’s famous peach pie or adapt Marian Burro’s impeccable plum torte for what could be the most delicious (and famous) stone fruit dessert in history. (In fact, some people celebrate #NationalPlumDay on August 24.) #EataPeachDay #PeachPie #PeachMonth #peaches
August 31: National Eat Outside Day
Summer alwasy seems to slip too quickly, so restaurant-goers who like to dine al fresco look for opportunities to soak up that last bit of sun. If your restaurant already offers outdoor dining, you can use this fun holiday to bring more visibility to your patio (and increase restaurant sales) with promotional posts on your social media channels. Show off your space in flattering photos and make sure customers know they can opt to sit outside if the weather is nice. Highlight the awnings or heaters that keep them outside even if the weather isn’t so nice. You don’t have outdoor dining? Promote your takeout and delivery options as backyard menus. Get creative: Offer a picnic basket special, complete with plates, utensils, etc.; host a booth at an end-of-summer street fair or music festival; or have a sidewalk sale featuring housemade beverages and snacks. No matter how you spin it, #EatOutsideDay can drive traffic and increase your restaurant sales as patrons try to capture the last freedoms of summer. #AlFrescoDining
Strengthen your takeout and delivery options to attract new customers, increase frequency, and boost ticket size. Download our e-book “How to Balance the Challenges and Opportunities of Off-Premise Dining” today!