Community partnerships can stimulate business, engineer free publicity and promote restaurants and communities in an integrated effort. Charitable and civic initiatives can generate great online exposure that improves website visibility, strengthens SEO rankings and establishes restaurants as connected and civic-minded.

Partnerships can include civic organizations, national charities, local merchant cooperatives and independent efforts to promote worthy causes or charities. Downtown merchants or mall associations might organize weekend adventures, promote area festivals, take part in wine walks or pub crawls or provide catering services for signature events.

  • Restaurants can offer meeting facilities for planning, events or business associations that want to enable members to make networking connections.
  • Festival participation, though often difficult and seldom profitable, generates great publicity.
  • Partnership possibilities include agreements with merchants, charities or independent decisions to give portions of sales to particular causes.
  • Restaurants can offer catering, donation of supplies or labor for initiatives.
  • Some groups offer handicapped people opportunities to work in various restaurant kitchen jobs.
  • Restaurants can offer apprenticeships to local high schools, colleges and culinary institutes for mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Restaurants can always hold specialty tasting dinners to benefit any cause during slow times of the year. Menus can be prix fixe or à la carte.
  • Restaurants located near the coast can always promote sustainable seafood to educate diners and build support in the environmental community. Landlocked restaurants can promote produce sustainability by making environmentally responsible choices and promoting their area vendors.

Take Part in Restaurant Week or Promote National Food Days

Restaurants benefit from increased exposure during Restaurant Week, which occurs at varied times in different regions of the country. The concept is about partnering with local tourism organizations, merchants or chambers of commerce to promote a week of lunch or dinner specials. Restaurants can choose local noncompetitive merchants, food vendors or banks as partners for the event. Other possibilities include local newspapers or magazines to promote holiday events such as feeding the homeless, sponsoring a Halloween costume contest or creating a signature line of burgers for National Burger Month.

Some restaurants increase sales as much as 40 percent during these food celebrations, and the exposure can attract new customers, strengthen online presence and build reputations in the community.

Gaining Maximum Exposure from Signature Restaurant Initiatives

Restaurant owners can maximize their results by joining local groups of independent restaurateurs or civic organizations, which often offer ancillary benefits such as membership newsletter stories, access to email lists, monthly meetings and regular social gatherings. Signature events offer exposure to local food-loving people and tourists who are visiting the area. Planners might choose member restaurants to hold these events, and hosting lunch or dinner offers a tremendous validation of the restaurant, food and staff.

Charitable events or causes shouldn’t take restaurant staff by surprise because promoting restaurant dining and charities requires staff involvement for maximum exposure.

  • Make sure that each staff understands the charity, issues involved or sustainability policies of the restaurant.
  • Offer transparent information about the restaurant’s policies that each employee understands.
  • Prepare employees for holidays by training them to higher levels of efficiency to meet demand.
  • Let staff members know that their extra efforts are appreciated during hectic events.
  • Planning helps to eliminate snags that come through overbooking and understaffing.

A Community of Restaurant-Partnership Opportunities

Restaurants can capitalize on local causes, holidays, sustainability issues and government-sponsored events. Restaurant owners can investigate possibilities by contacting chambers of commerce, tourism groups, educational institutes or national charities. Ambitious entrepreneurs could even organize their own events that include tastings, charity auctions, cooking classes, murder mystery dinners or block tours in the neighborhood. A strategically located restaurant could host local home tours, parties, receptions or meetings. A commercial kitchen has equipment, knowledge and staff to handle on- or off-premises catering for a range of community events that will generate new business and raise a restaurant’s profile. The opportunities for community partnerships are almost limitless, and only the willingness to reach out and lend a hand.