Being a restaurateur is no joke.
The hospitality industry is competitive, and it takes some major chops to stay afloat. That is why restaurateurs are constantly looking for ways to stand apart from the crowd and carve their own niche.
To do that, you need to be able to give your customers unique experiences they cannot get anywhere else.
In this article, Pick On Us will explore some creative ways you could give your customers the time of their lives with an experience they won’t forget.
Ready to jumpstart your creativity?
Let’s get started!
What Creates A Great Dining Experience?
Before we jump into our creative ideas, what makes a great dining experience in the first place? Is it just the quality of the food?
Certainly not! The quality of your dining experience comes from much more than the food itself. We think it boils down to four main categories:
1 - Food quality
First and foremost, your food quality does matter. People come to your business for great food, and if you don’t deliver, they won’t come back. Well-cooked, beautifully presented food is absolutely crucial to giving your customers a great experience.
2 - Ambience
Nobody would turn out for great food if you served it out back behind the dumpsters. People also come to your business for the ambiance.
Decor, music, lighting, seating…all these factors play into creating just the right ambiance for your business. And nailing the perfect ambiance is another step toward getting customers to return.
3 - Service
The quality of the service people receive at your business can be a huge part of creating a truly memorable experience.
Have you ever had an experience at a restaurant where the food was great and the atmosphere was good, but the service was exceptional? You may not even remember what you ate–but you might remember the awesome waiter who made the entire experience come alive.
The human element of your business is one of the things many people remember most about their experience at your restaurant.
4 - The “coolness factor”
Food, ambiance, service…these are the building blocks of a great restaurant experience. But you can still go a step further.
Some experiences have a “coolness factor” thrown in on top. For instance, customized skewers in the sandwiches. Or a special take-home dessert at the end of the meal. Or uniquely folded napkins.
These little “coolness factor” touches often stick in customers’ memories more than the most incredible food ever could!
But you can go even further with the “coolness factor” than just napkin roses or petit fours at the end of the meal. Here’s a story about a restaurateur who nailed the “coolness factor:”
Will Guidara owned a 5 star restaurant in NYC, and served phenomenal, high-class food. One day he overheard some tourists in his restaurant saying the only thing they hadn’t tried in NYC was a dirty water hotdog from a roadside stand.
Spying an opportunity, Will sent one of his employees out to buy a dirty water dog, chopped it up on a plate, and presented it to his customers. They LOVED it!
Maybe not every restaurant is capable of giving customers quite this level of service. But I can guarantee you that those customers remember that dirty water dog better than any of the fancy cuisine they got at Will’s restaurant.
Next up, we’ll discuss some ways you can wow your guests and create an experience they’ll remember for a long time!
4 Unique Ways To Create A Memorable Dining Experience
Creating a truly unique restaurant experience is tougher than it sounds. I mean, is there anything that hasn’t been done before?
We get how hard it is to keep unique ideas rolling out–let’s explore a few ideas you could use (with your own personal spin!) to give your guests a great time.
1) Chef-manned food stations
While having a delicious plate of food materialize in front of you is awesome, it can be even more exciting to see your food prepared in front of your eyes!
A chef-manned grill or sushi station where guests can place a custom order and watch as the chef whips it up for them is a great way to get people immersed in their experience.
A few ideas for food stations include:
- Pasta station
- Taco stations
- Omelet station
- Wood-fired pizza station
- Dessert crepe station
And more! The options are endless. Food stations are also a great way to increase the number of interactions your customers have with your staff. People will love chatting with a fun, lively chef as they watch their omelet come into being!
2) Customized wedding beverages
Everybody loves a unique drink! And these days, customization is the thing that gets everyone raving.
There are lots of ways you could spice up the drinks at your event and make them a little more customizable.
You could have a drink bar where guests can get a bartender to make them a totally custom cocktail, just the way they like it. Or if you want to go a different direction, you could even utilize some edible paper and paste a picture of the happy couple on top of the cocktails! It doesn’t get more unique than that!
Either way, guests will love the special spin on their drinks, and a unique custom drink will stick in their memories.
3) Themed events
If you want to make your bar or restaurant more fun, try hosting a themed event that will draw people in.
The options are only limited by your imagination! Here are a few restaurant theme night ideas to get you started:
- Sports nights
- Decade-themed nights (70s, 80s, 90s, etc)
- Girls' or guys' night out
- Bar Olympics (bring on the beer pong, darts, and giant jenga!)
- Trivia night
- Book or literary-themed night
- Art night
- Seniors night
- Cocktail masterclass or other workshop
- Beer or wine-tasting night
- Movie themed night
- Kids night
The list could go on forever. Whatever you choose, be sure to go all in! Also, be sure to properly publicize your event so people know about it.
4) Cultural nights
People love trying new things, and a fun cultural evening may be just the thing to get people out to your business.
To host a cultural night, simply pick a culture to center around and cook up some of the best dishes from that culture. You can take it even further with authentic decor, music, and even costumes for your staff. You could even hand out themed favors and have cultural dancing!
Your culture night could be Hawaiian (bring on the ukulele band), Jamaican, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Canadian (break out the poutine and beaver tails), or anything you want!
3 Tips For Building Your Memorable Experience
The four ideas above are just the beginning, and there are tons of small ideas you could implement to make your business unique. Before we go, we’d like to share three tips for creating dining experiences that stick with people.
#1 Make it shareable
Have you ever heard the phrase, “If it’s not on social media, it didn’t happen”? This generation loves to share what they are doing, seeing, and eating–especially if it’s aesthetic enough to be Insta-worthy.
When people share info about your business online, it’s called User Generated Content, and it’s one of the most effective ways to market your business because people will believe what their friends say about your business much more quickly than what you say about it.
So when you create a share-worthy dish or event, every customer becomes a marketer for your business!
If you’ve got the funds, you could even invite an influencer to come to restaurant and serve them a free meal. Be sure to make it an experience they won’t forget!
#2 Make it charitable
People like to feel they are supporting a good cause. That is why “give back to the community,” or charity events can be such a hit.
Not every event you put on needs to be to help starving children in Africa, and we aren’t saying you should try to manipulate people into coming to your business through their heartstrings.
However, altruistic events can be a great way to boost your business while genuinely giving back to the community that supports you. That’s a win win!
#3 Make it engaging
People love to actively participate in things, which is why options like food stations or mixology classes can be a hit.
If you can find a creative way to involve your guests in your event, it gets them up, active, and interacting with your staff instead of sitting at their table all night like they do at all the restaurants they go to. Directly involving them in their experience is a great way to give them an evening they’ll remember!
Being a restaurateur isn’t easy. Keeping new ideas rolling and customers engaged requires a lot of energy and creativity.
We hope these ideas help get you on your way to creating experiences that amaze, delight, and inspire your customers.
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