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12 creative hacks for restaurants in 2020

By Anna-Sofia Jonsson, 21 Nov 2019

Keep reading - 4 minutes reading time

Have you thought of new ways to attract new, loyal customers that just can’t seem to stop coming back for more? I list 12 of my favorite trends to implement at your restaurant, café, bar or hotel in 2020. Enjoy the read.


1. Coffee Subscription Program

What better way to bring customers back than offering a coffee subscription program? The idea of this type of subscription program is as simple as the subscription for, let’s say, Netflix. Your customers pay a monthly fee and can come in for as much coffee as they want during that month.

Not only to you create a loyal client base. Chances are, they add something else to the order to go with their coffee. Of course, the subscription program can be molded to fit your business – be creative and go bananas.


2. Appreciation for the chefs

This is supposed to be a fun way to show appreciation for the chefs at the restaurant. At Silo, a restaurant in Nashville, the dessert menu offers treats for more than just the guests. One menu item is listed as “buy the chefs a round of beer”.

The listed items can be adjusted to fit your business. It simply gives the guest a fun way to say ‘thank you’ to your staff in a different way than tipping them.


3. Educational recipes

There are many versions of this trend, so let me just mention two:

  1. You can highlight educational, dietary facts on your menu, napkins or tablecloths. For example, a “did you know” section that highlights things, such as “asparagus is a good source of vitamin K, which is important for our bones.”
  2. You could staple the final receipt to a flyer with “Grandma’s Recipe for the perfect granola” and hand over to your customers with a small sample of mentioned granola.

Do you have more suggestions? I’d love to hear them!


4. Coaster-led conversations

We all know the reason of coasters’ existence: to protect surfaces of tables where people like you and I might place a drink. However, coasters can be used for so many fun things – like starting conversations.

Icebreakers. At Granite City Food & Brewery, each guest receives a coaster printed with an icebreaker such as “What is the worst place you’ve ever been to? And why?”. The questions can be intended for the guests to ask each other, or for a barista or server to ask the guests to answer.

How fun???


5. Taco Tuesday test

Imagine a new way for your menu to always stay relevant and up to date?

Every Tuesday, a taco restaurant in Maine offers a new taco (new concept, ingredients, etc.), allowing the customers to be the official tasters and decide whether the new taco will decide if the new taco made the cut to join the menu permanently.

Maybe trying a new pasta dish, cupcake or cocktail is right for you?


6. Instagrammable creamer

Staying in the game is all about creative plating. Or how you choose to serve your creamer. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again – Instagram is the most important social media platform for restaurants. Not only to post pictures, but for guests to tag your location and account – to make others see what you offer. Interaction is key.

A café by the name Snooze use a wood stir stick as a hook for a miniature cream pitcher as a side when they serve a cup of coffee. Not only does it make for an instagrammable cup of coffee, it also makes it easier for the servers to carry it too.


7. Organize a game-night

Bring board games, cards, twister and other fun games and invite the guests to stay the night playing games while enjoying a selection of your menu at reduced prices. If game-night is popular, maybe you can charge a small fee for every reservation next time. The opportunities are endless!


8. Group chats

Enable your staff to give each other feedback and encouragement by setting up group chats. If you like to keep the back-of-house and front-of-house staff separate, that’s up to you. But the group chats provide a space for the staff to give high-fives, discuss setups of the coffee station, switch schedules and do corrections by holding each other accountable.

This won’t be your space, but your employees’ space and to coach and cheer on each other. And it’s important it stays that way.


9. Gum disposal

Your guests show up at your restaurant and (uh oh) forgot to dispose of the gum in their mouth before being seated. Now, you’ll find out if you’ve provided them with options to dispose of said gum. Do a lot of them end up on sweetener packages? Or napkins?

Either way… imagine if you on every table left a small piece of paper that says “gum”. Gross? Maybe. Necessary? Definitely. I know I would appreciate it.


10. Menu to amuse parents

On the menu tonight:

  • I don’t care (= pancakes)
  • I don’t want that (= pasta and meat sauce)
  • What (= cheese quesadilla)
  • I’m not hungry (= french fries)

Main perk, when a child tells a parent they aren’t hungry, the adult can say: “there’s something on the menu for that.”


11. Eco-friendly outfits

Sustainability is a hot topic, and you have the power to make a difference. As more and more brands are becoming more aware of sustainability and making it a pillar of their entire business, it’s playing out beyond the menu.

For example, the American giant Walmart are now handing out a new vest for employees to wear that’s partly made from recycled plastic bottles. There are endless things you could do for your business.


12. Picnic boxes

Lastly: have you considered creating a takeout option in the shape of a picnic box?

Include a few large-sized sides, bottled drinks or coffee and a protein option such as pieces of fried chicken or sliders (small hamburgers) as an off-premise option for smaller groups. Suddenly, you’re an attractive option to people who would rather enjoy the summer weather outdoor than from inside a restaurant.


These are my 12 tips for you as a restauranteur. Do you have more ideas? Please let me know, I would love to hear your ideas! Next step is to digitize your restaurant. Download our whitepaper to get a head start.

Download The Digital Restaurant here

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