The positive impact from participating in a Restaurant Week tends to last much longer than the typical seven to 10-day run of the promotion. In fact, Open Table’s 2012 nationwide survey of Restaurant Weeks found that 90 percent of diners are likely to recommend restaurants they visited and 87 percent of diners say they will likely return.
“Restaurant Weeks inspire diners to visit restaurants during times of the year that are typically slower, such as the first few months of the year and the summer season,” says Scott Jampol, vice president of consumer marketing at Open Table, which partners with more than 100 Restaurant Week events each year. “They serve as a great marketing tool for restaurants to find new customers.”
That’s precisely the message Bruce Hensley touts when he reminds restaurateurs that Restaurant Week is not about profit margins.
“This is marketing. This is an opportunity to target the coveted trial business, to get people to step outside of their typical economic or geographic footprint,” says Hensley, co-owner—along with wife Jill—of Hensley Fontana Public Relations/Marketing, which organizes semiannual January and June Restaurant Week events in Charlotte, North Carolina, each lasting ten days.
Tom Condron, chef/owner at The Liberty Gastropub in Charlotte, has participated every year since opening three years ago.
“We get several hundred more guests in those 10 days, and it’s a great way to make new friends,” says Condron. “We can be a little different and yet be true to what we are, and we can experiment with new items that some guests would not choose from a regular menu.”
Indeed, Charlotte’s most recent Restaurant Week, held in January, featured 112 restaurants across a six-county area and served 130,000 dinners for a $6 million impact. The July 2012 Restaurant Week was comparable, with 107 restaurants participating, 125,000 dinners served, and a $5.8 million economic impact. Since diners who did not order the $30 prix fixe menu weren’t counted in these totals, the impact was likely even larger.