A friend recently complained that his restaurant, although famous and well-known, was not on a local television show done in his area. Although newer and less famous restaurants were, he couldn’t figure out why nobody knocked on his door with a camera strapped to the shoulder.
The answer was simple public relations. Oh, who has the money for that? Every restaurant owner has a public relations budget sitting in the walk-in. Think how too use it. Get creative. You are in the most flamboyant business in the world. Put the excitment back into your restaurant and your Public Relations Plan.How many times each week do you write off food that never saw the top of a stove? How many times last month did that Prime Rib from Friday night become fodder for whatever lurks by your dumpster?
Nothing beats food for great public relations. Minnesota Star Tribune food critic Jeremy Iggers wrote a review of one of my restaurants in 1992. Iggers waiter, Michael Benno, forgot to refill the bread basket for Iggers’ table. That oversight made it into the review. Iggers received a massive basket, filled with the breads of the house, sundried tomato, wild rice, and I believe an olive fococcia, the day the review hit the streets. It didn’t sway his review, that was already published, but I am sure it scored a few points in the news room.
Don’t hesitate to make use of extra food by calling a large corporate neighbor, who you would like to make a client, and send lunch over for five or six of the executive’s assistants. They plan the parties. They make the reservations. They know the hottest and the nicest restaurants in their areas.
Complimentary lunches work. That’s how you built a client base and a catering base.
When we first took over the Cottagewood General Store I had to fire one of my chefs for reasons that will not appear here. But, I am sure you can imagine. When the community heard that “The Chef” was fired I immediately received a cancellation on a catering party. It was understandable as my partner and I were unknown to the culinary community and with less than three days to prepare for the party I probably couldn’t have done the event any justice.
We did however, salvage the client for future events.
On the night of the event we sent two beautiful gift baskets, filled with cheese, crackers, charcuterie, house-made appetizers and champagne to each of the host’s houses. The note in the basket simply read- “While your getting ready for your party, enjoy the best food you will have all night. We look forward to catering your needs in the future.”
They became clients the following day when they stopped by our store to thank us. And so did most of their guests.
Delivery some sandwiches, or a few plates of cookies to an unexpecting corporation’s Administrative Assistant and watch the goodwill knock on your door.
Nobody does that anymore.