Tucci Benucch is appealing to shoppers at its Mall of America location with a special menu.
You say customers don’t think of your restaurant as a logical place to host their holiday party, buy a holiday meal or grab a bite while doing their holiday shopping? Take a lesson from four operations that faced the same problems but figured out smart ways to get their share of the holiday dining market.
Beach-themed casual dining restaurant Cheeseburger in Paradise (CIB) probably wasn’t top of mind for office party planners located anywhere within its 15-state footprint prior to this year. But for 2012, the chain cooked up a contest that will award one business a free office holiday party for up to 20 people, drinks being extra. Companies entered by submitting a 60-seconds-or-less online video that made the case why their workers should get a free party. Criteria for winning include “creativity, energy and fun.”
The contest closes Nov. 30 and there will be just one winner across the chain’s 25 units. But it’s the nonwinners who offer the most potential here.
The contest is sure to create many groups of coworkers who are hopeful of having a rocking holiday party at Cheeseburger in Paradise. To give the nonwinners that chance, CIB is awarding each participating business 10 percent off the cost of their party if they hold it at CIB, and will give a $10 gift card to each member of the party (presuming they meet the 10-person minimum).
Think this is a good way to get holiday revelers to book their office party at their local Cheeseburger in Paradise unit? We do, too, and we think it’s one of the sharpest marketing moves we’ve seen in awhile.
The people who run the Popeyes chain are sharp marketers, too. They’ve figured out how to get in on the takeout turkey market for the holidays, even though a QSR chain is the last place most people would think they could get one.
Popeyes offers “Cajun-style” turkeys that weigh between nine and 11 pounds apiece. Customers have to order them five days in advance, and the birds are “flash-fried” and fully cooked, although they require a short roasting period in a home oven before they can be served. Patrons can round out their meal with items from Popeye’s traditional side dish lineup to produce a no-work holiday meal with little effort.
As part of the promotion, Popeyes gives customers a handy recipe to produce Cajun Fried Turkey and Sausage Jambalaya the next day, plus one for Crawfish Stuffing served with Cajun Gravy. The cost of a fully cooked turkey from Popeyes? Around $40. The chain has been offering holiday turkeys for a decade, so we know it’s a moneymaker.
One-off promotions can bring a little extra cash into a restaurant’s till, too. Consider what they’re doing on Black Friday at Tucci Benucch, located at the Mall of America in Bloomington (suburban Minneapolis), MN.
This Lettuce Entertain You-owned concept is known for its classic take on Italian cuisine. It’s a style that would seem to provide few logical breakfast options for mall shoppers who camped out in line all night or rose at the crack of dawn to take advantage of this megamall’s special sales that began on the day after Thanksgiving.
But Tucci Benucch has come up with a menu that holds appeal for these sleepy-eyed shoppers. For one day only, the restaurant will offer Black Friday Pizza and Pie for Breakfast specials. The “pie” refers to baked spaghetti and the deal’s price points are mostly $5 and $3, right in line with the expectations of early morning bargain hunters.
The $5 menu includes standard personal pizzas like margherita and pepperoni, and also a sausage and egg version that gives a nod to the early morning daypart. Wine and Bloody Marys go for $5, too, and the signature spaghetti pie costs $8.
A Tucci Benucch spokesperson says that the $3 menu will include “fried, hand-pulled mozzarella, mini meat balls, baked Donnay Farms goat cheese, and beverages such as Tucci's Famous Punch, mimosas and a selection of wine.” We think this meal is going to sound like a really good idea for groggy shoppers who showed up when the Mall of America’s 100-plus stores opened at midnight and kept at it all night long.
Sushi Rock, in Arlington, VA, decided to court shoppers with liquid refreshment to calm down their frazzled nerves. Anyone who turns up with a same-day gift shopping receipt qualifies for a carafe of sake, the perfect complement to the restaurant’s menu of ramen soup, steamed buns and, of course, sushi.
Sushi Rock, normally a dinner-only operation, is banking on shopper traffic: It’s extended hours to lunch and brunch for the season.
These are but a few ways restaurant operators are thinking outside the box about how to make the most of a holiday season, a time when patrons readily open their wallets if you give them a good reason to do so. There’s still time to cash in on the 2012 holiday season, and it’s never too early to get a start on 2013.