9 Ideas for Summer Restaurant Events & Promotions
How restaurants can take advantage of the summer surge in demand.
Summer is high season for restaurant events and promotions. With warmer weather comes more interest from customers in getting out of the house and making plans. Restaurants compete with other businesses to drive that demand through their doors, and events help them do that.
But events and promotions do more than just drive revenue. Especially for newer restaurants, they begin to define the brand in the eyes of the community. The ideas a restaurant chooses and how it executes them leave a lasting impression on diners, which makes them a powerful marketing tool.
How should your restaurant tap into this? It starts with the right idea. To help with the brainstorming process, we’ve curated 9 great examples of summer events and promotions. Check them out below and to spark ideas for your restaurant.
Summer Restaurant Event Ideas
1. Interactive Food Classes
What’s better than eating seafood? Eating seafood you prepared yourself. Seamore’s runs an oyster shucking and wine pairing workshop every Monday and Tuesday during the summer where guests learn how to shuck four varieties of oysters, pair them with seasonal drinks, and keep the gloves and oyster knife as souvenirs. Seamore’s also partners with the Billion Oyster Project to recycle all shells from the class. From start to finish, the event is engaging, tasty, and leaves its guests feeling fulfilled.
2. Local Festival Partnerships
Summer is peak season for festivals and large outdoor gatherings. There’s no better time for a restaurant to take its show on the road, feeding large groups of hungry event-goers. Strategic external partnerships also spread brand awareness with targeted audiences. Tips Roadside, for example, caters a local summer film festival, whose attendees would make perfect customers for its upscale comfort food and local beer and wine list.
3. Outdoor Fitness Classes
In the summer, people want to socialize outside but also stay active. If your restaurant or a nearby area has the space for it, outdoor fitness classes allow them to do both at once. This is especially beneficial when a restaurant markets the event to a clear audience. For example, Bar Siena, an Italian restaurant in a trendy part of Chicago, promotes its fitness series with millennial-heavy photographs and packages the event with a boozy brunch.
4. Nostalgic Parties
For many, summer is the season of nostalgia — a time to remember the good old days. Restaurants can tap into this by planning events that remind guests of their youth. The Bonnie in Astoria, New York hosted a 90’s-themed beach party for the now-adult children of that decade, while City Tap House appealed to the kid inside everyone with an Adult Summer Camp series.
5. Outdoor Evening Events
In cold climates, summer is the best time to be outside at night. In hot climates, night is the best time to be outside during summer. Either way, summer nights are a luxury, and restaurant events should take advantage of it. Ranch 45 in Solana Beach, California does just that with its Wine Dinner Under the Stars, which includes a prix fixe pairing menu and generates demand with limited seating.
6. Live Music Series
Few things pair with warm weather as well as live music does. That's why live music series — where restaurants host musicians during set days and times — are so popular during the summer. Just ask Poka Lola Social Club. The series component encourages repeat guests, who can use the consistent timing to make live music part of their summer routines. It also allows restaurants to drum up business during typically slow hours, or drive extra revenue with cover charges during peak hours.
Summer Restaurant Promotion Ideas
7. Home Grilling Packs
Summer goes hand-in-hand with home grilling. This was true long before the pandemic, but the normalization of restaurant meal kits and pantry menus, along with restaurants’ improved capacity to sell them, has made ideas like “grill packs” more intriguing. Whiskey Bird ran the promotion with a mix of raw and pre-cooked meats for Father’s Day — but the idea could just as easily work all summer.
8. Summer Gift Card Discounts
Restaurant gift cards became more popular during the pandemic, as a way for diners to support their favorite eateries. But gift cards were also a smart way to drive extra revenue before the pandemic, and they will continue to serve that role moving forward. Fifth Group Restaurants incentivizes summer gift card purchases with 50% discounts at restaurants in its portfolio, like Alma Cocina, South City Kitchen and Ecco.
💳 Learn more about why restaurants should sell digital gift cards.
9. Takeout Picnic Baskets
Similar to grill packs, takeout picnic baskets are a seasonal promotion that have been successful for restaurants . They are especially impactful when a storefront is located near high-traffic grassy areas, like Opaline near the National Mall in DC. Restaurants with prominent storefront locations can use promotions like this to stand out from competitors.
8 Ideas for Labor Day Restaurant Events & Promotions
August 24, 2021
How restaurants can plan for a profitable end-of-summer weekend.
How To Increase Restaurant Revenue This Summer
May 30, 2023
Restaurants can boost summer profits with pre-order & catering, reservations, and events management.
6 Creative Ways for Restaurants to Boost Sales This July 4th
May 30, 2023
How restaurants are getting creative and promoting new offerings that drive profits this holiday weekend.