A Restaurant’s Guide to Travel Guides

Matt’s in the Market.

How to win tourists and influence diners on the road.

Each year, more than 10 million people enjoy Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, a must-see for many visitors to The Emerald City. Though it’s tucked above the hustle and bustle of the Market’s street-level engagement, Matt’s in the Market—an 18-year-old gourmet restaurant serving farm-to-table-inspired cuisine—nevertheless draws from the Market’s ever-present intrigue.

During the summer, Matt’s owner Dan Bugge says non-locals represent upward of 60 percent of sales. Off-season, that number hovers near 40 percent.

While Matt’s has been able to piggyback on the Market’s tourism pull, Bugge has also benefited from various travel guides that champion Matt’s fare. The guidebook reviews are something Matt’s touts on its website, including this tidbit from Fodor’s: “Your first dinner at Matt’s is like a first date you hope will never end.”

“I’m of the mindset that any type of publicity is a positive,” Bugge says, adding that there are times he’ll even spot a guidebook on the table as guests dine.

Appearing in a credible travel guide allows restaurants to reach a wider audience, including international clientele, many of whom stand eager to immerse themselves in a new culture.

Last year, the U.S. welcomed an estimated 65.4 million international visitors, a record number of travelers according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. In 2013, that number is expected to climb above the 68 million mark.

The increased travel is welcome news for restaurants, particularly those in fine dining and casual dining who rely on tourism dollars to enliven the bottom line. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Trends Survey, travelers and tourists represented an average of 29 percent of sales for fine-dining operators and approximately 25 percent of sales for family-dining and casual-dining operators.



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