by Larissa Gutscher

Diners have never had as many options for food as they do today. Whether they pick out a recipe from a blog and cook for themselves, order takeout using a variety of different apps, or choose to go out to a restaurant, there are still plenty of choices to make just for one meal. So with all of these options, what can you as a restaurant owner do to convince the hungry people of your city to choose your establishment to satisfy their cravings?

Offering a niche cuisine is obviously appealing; if yours is the only restaurant in the region serving a vegetarian Mexican-Ethiopian fusion, it’s easy to please those customers who are looking for exactly what you provide. But if you’re more interested in sticking to your tried and true menu, there are plenty of other ways to make your restaurant eye-catching to passers-by and memorable for your guests.

1. Create inviting views from your windows.

Have you ever walked past a store you’ve had no experience with and felt intrigued by it just because it looked so appealing from the outside? While outer appearance is important for any restaurant, especially in an area with a lot of foot traffic, you should offer a nice view to those who slow down while walking past to take a look inside. Put effort into decorating your windows with curtains or art. Have your logo pasted to the glass or hang the day’s specials in a beautiful frame.

Think about what people see when they peer through the front glass. Do they see an open kitchen with lots of action, or a disorganised layout? If you have tables pushed up to the window, make sure they are decorated nicely in a way that reflects the ambience of your restaurant.

2. Keep your patio looking fresh.

Once you’ve improved the view into your restaurant, it’s time to think about other aspects potential diners encounter from the outside. If you have a patio, especially one near pedestrian traffic, be sure to make it look enticing. There are plenty of creative ideas available on sites like Pinterest, but there are a few classic tricks you can try as well.

Make Your Restaurant Stand Out

You can create a romantic feel by hanging lights, or a cozy environment by having a fire pit. Providing both shady and sunny spots gives your guests the option to dine however they’re most comfortable. Placing funny or clever signs on your patio can bring a smile to the face of a passer-by and even be convincing enough for them to give your restaurant a try.

3. Offer unique drinks.

Craft beer is all the rage and wine tastings are ever popular. While there will always be diners who stick to the drinks they know, it’s no longer an option to simply serve the most common beer staples. Dining out is an occasion to try new things, and those who don’t want to take the risk with their meal may instead opt for a drink with which they aren’t familiar.

Make Your Restaurant Stand Out

Be inventive with your drink offers.

The unique drinks menu shouldn’t stop at beer, though. Plenty of millennials, among the most impactful consumers right now, have outgrown their student drinking habits and are more interested in pairing the right wines with their food. And while some cocktails will always remain classics, there are endless combinations that have yet to be discovered, let alone sold – get creative! If it’s right for your restaurant, it may be worth hiring a sommelier or other specialist to help jazz up your drinks menu.

4. Put some extra effort into food presentation.

It’s not uncommon nowadays to see someone whip out their phone and snap a quick picture of their meal before digging in. It’s not because they want to let everyone know they’re eating right now; most photos are taken to capture a beautiful sight, and that applies to food as well. No one is going to take a picture of a boring plate of spaghetti with sauce slopped on top. Take the time to present your food in a unique way. Even if you aren’t a fan of food photos, having a satisfied customer share their #foodporn photo is still great (free!) exposure for your restaurant. You never know – you may be serving an influencer who is about to drive thousands of guests to your place!

Make Your Restaurant Stand Out

Just like a beautiful landscape, expect pictures to be taken of your beautiful food.

5. Come up with creative dish solutions.

Now that you’ve come up with an ingenious trick to make all of your vegetables look like flowers, how else can you make the actual presentation of the food memorable? Try getting creative with what you’re serving your food on. Consider the style of your dishes in relation to the overall atmosphere of your restaurant. Or try skipping the plate entirely – serving charcuterie on something unconventional like a bathroom tile is a little more exciting than a simple cutting board.

At this point the mason-jar-as-a-cocktail-glass has become somewhat cliché, but there are still opportunities to throw a bit of a vintage vibe into your dishes. If you’re serving coffee in modern cups, give your guests their milk in an old-fashioned creamer. You can easily pick up these and other unique pieces at second-hand stores and spice up your food presentation with only a small investment.

6. Hire exceptional staff.

All your aesthetic details will quickly be overshadowed if your guests receive terrible service during their meal. An unpleasant experience with restaurant staff can ruin a dining experience and often prompts negative reviews and word-of-mouth. Above all, make sure your wait staff are friendly and your cooks are trained to handle customer requests. The most memorable part of a meal is often the human interactions that take place during. You can read some of our tips for keeping your employees, and your customers, happy here.

7. Embrace technology.

There are so many benefits to using technology in your restaurant that it should be incorporated right from the get-go. With the right solutions, you can track your customers’ preferences and be prepared to offer them a great experience every time they come back. What makes a restaurant stand out more in someone’s mind than personalised service? You can also use technology to train staff more quickly and efficiently, manage inventory, reduce food waste, and create a unique ambience.

If you think your restaurant could use an eye-catching pop, be sure to give some of these ideas a try. In no time you could become the place that everyone can’t stop talking about!

Check out: How to Deliver Personalized Customer Service and How Restaurants are Embracing Tech to Improve the Customer Experience