Coke Solutions

A Dozen Ways to Fill Your Restaurant During Off-Peak Times

Proven strategies to pull in customers during slower times

By Foodmix Marketing Communications contributing writer

Every restaurant experiences slower business during some dayparts or days of the week. How can you fill those empty seats? Here are twelve proven off-peak perks that can pull in customers.

  1. If lunch time is slow, make coupons available to dinner guests offering free soup or salad with a lunch sandwich or entree.
  2. Sample menu items from other dayparts at every meal. Encourage dinner wait staff to recommend their favorite lunch dishes and vice versa.
  3. Schedule specials by day, such as "Kids Eat Free Mondays," half-price wine nights or free dessert days.
  4. Start a frequent diner card program that includes menu item discounts for slower dayparts or a free beverage on your down night. If you reward customers with a "10th dinner free," count any dinner purchased on Monday as two meals.
  5. Reward your employees on a slower night with a "bring your friends and family night," allowing one out of three in their party to eat for free.
  6. Incent your regular customers with a discount on Monday or Tuesday if they bring a friend who has never experienced your restaurant.
  7. Identify local clubs, service groups and others that regularly meet on your slow nights and entice them with special offers.
  8. Promote a happy hour pricing menu for your slowest period of the day or offer early bird discounts from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  9. Partner with a local wine shop to hold a Monday or Tuesday night wine tasting.
  10. Create "midday munchies" and "mid-eve munchies" coupons for appetizer or dessert sampler plates to pull diners in between lunch and dinner or during late evening.
  11. Begin relationships with your next generation of customers by creating college or high school student discount nights.
  12. Support a charitable cause by contributing a portion of your receipts on a typically slow day. Work with the organization's fundraising or marketing team to promote the event and generate publicity.

Use your imagination and you'll be surprised how much your off-peak business can perk up.


Foodmix Marketing Communications, a unique "farm to table" marketing agency provides clients with decades of knowledge and experience in all aspects of the food industry. The firm offers a mix of research and consulting, timely strategies, new technologies and resounding creative execution. For more information visit

Disclaimer: The article’s author provided these tips as thought-starters. You may wish to consult an attorney for legal guidance before implementing marketing efforts.​​

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Published: July 09, 2010