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By: Eric Hahn

Destination Restaurant: Drawing Patrons from Neighbouring Communities

What does it take to drive people to your door from somewhere else? Is it the food, ambience, price, service? Well sure it is, but what if people in the town next to yours do not know this? Marketing to your customers in neighboring communities is a valuable technique that will help build your sales for the long term and expand the popularity of your establishment.

Let's face it, most people have a favorite restaurant somewhere else. Whether they discovered this on their own, or were told by friends, a destination restaurant is a place where people ordinarily go out of their way to visit.

Here are some simple techniques you can employ that will make people get in their car and drive to your restaurant from neighboring communities:

  • Make them golden! Though you're already doing this, make each and every visiting customer golden. Make their experience a unique and welcoming one, and let them know how appreciative it is for them to be there.
  • Go up and above the value they expect. Give them a free dessert, offer to pick up their drinks, or add some incentive to the overall value of their meal.
  • Recommend your top menu items. Always recommend your top menu items to people who are visiting for the first time. By offering your specialty or most popular menu items will greatly improve their experience because these items have already proven to be winners.
  • Improve your wait times. If you don't take reservations, find ways of improving the length of their wait! This may not seem like a big deal, but to someone who's been on the road (especially for any amount of time), expect them to be impatient.
  • Find time to talk with them about your community, your neighborhood, or your area. When somebody comes in to your establishment from somewhere else, they'll be all ears listening to what you can tell them about your town.
  • Use fresh local ingredients. Your mistaken if you're not already doing this, but sometimes a region may be known for its cuisine, and this is something you should be incorporating on your menu.

Creating a unique dining experience for those who visit from another community is essential to turning your restaurant into a destination. Your local community is already aware that you have great food, great location, ambience, and great service, but your customers from out of town need to learn this on their first experience.

Each time you learn that you have someone from out of town in your establishment, go out of your way to welcome them and make them feel unique. Next time they come in, they'll bring their friends or neighbors - let alone the grapevine you tapped into from somewhere else.

Everyone has a favorite restaurant 20 miles away or more. By expanding the range of your customer base through excellence in food, service and experience, you begin to build a following in neighboring communities that won't hesitate to jump in the car and make a special visit.

About the author:  Eric Hahn is the Founder and Research Developer for Hahn is a 25-year industry veteran with a diverse background in the restaurant business and a skilled research developer. produces a free monthly newsletter that provides insight to changes in the restaurant industry.

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