How to Attract the Late Night Crowd to Your Restaurant

By Alex Fainblum

Two people clinking their beer glasses together

It’s 2:00 am and your restaurant’s hungry for some customers. Your chefs are prepping for a busy night ahead and your staff are ready to take on the afterparty crowd. But no one’s stopping by your late night spot.

If you’re looking to brand yourself as the late-night place to eat for night owls, there are some things you can do to position your restaurant so it can’t be ignored.  Here are five things your restaurant can do to attract the late night crowd.

1. Signage You Can’t Miss at 2:00AM

It’s the middle of the night but is your restaurant in sight? Make sure people know your restaurant is open and ready to serve anyone looking for something to eat.

Surround your restaurant’s outdoor entrance with string lights and hang them on the walls inside. String lights spark an interest in anyone who walks by. And (weather permitting) keep your restaurant door wide open – don’t give anyone the chance to think your shop isn’t open for business. Invest in some bright signage that looks colorful during the day and can be turned on at night to become a brilliant feature of your outdoor decor.  

outdoor restaurant patio at night

2. Hashtag Research

When your chefs are prepping for a long night in the kitchen, head to social media. Post mouthwatering Instagram pictures, tweet daily specials, and update your Snapchat and Facebook on a daily basis.

But don’t just post to post – do your research on popular hashtags that apply to your restaurant’s neighborhood. Is #fridayfunday trending? Use it in all your posts’ captions.

Want another quick and easy way to gain exposure? Tag your restaurant’s location in your Instagram stories. Instagram stories collects geotagged stories that are posted within a specific geographic range, and adds them to one long story for that city and neighborhood. Your late night patrons may just spot your stories on their feeds and head over to check out your eats.

Don’t know what to post? Snap a pic of your restaurant’s late night menu to give your followers a sneak peek into what they can expect from your kitchen. You can also share some clips of your chefs at work or even a dish or two when they’re plated.

3. Give Your Diners a Place to Sit

After a night full of dancing, your diners will be desperately looking for a place to sit back and relax. Make sure your restaurant is the place for all those night owls who need to rest their feet. Throw some funky pillows on the booths to give them some character – and some back support.

Remember that your customers just spent hours in a dark and crowded bar. Light up their night and hang some string lights on your walls or swing some disco balls from the ceiling.

Accessorize your restaurant with decor that matches its theme. If you’d like to keep it simple, use paper as a table cover for your patrons to draw on or include an accent wall with cool paintings and quotes. These small changes can help enhance your restaurant’s atmosphere and make customers want to come back the next time they go out.

4. Serve Up Some Tasty Shareables

Whether your patrons are hungry for some post-bar munchies or looking for a place to cap off a girls’ night out, they won’t be coming in alone. Your post-bar crowd will be likely to come in groups, and you’ll want to make sure you can serve them fast.

Consider designing a late night menu of shareables. These small and tasty treats are perfect to munch on when socializing with a big group of friends or meeting new people.

And don’t forget about your kitchen staff. Your late night cooks won’t want to be bogged down by complex meals. They want to cook the food just as fast as your patrons want to eat it. A menu of shareables makes it easier for your chefs to prep, cook, and serve your restaurant’s food.

Remember: with lots of sharing comes lots of bill splitting. Make sure your restaurant has a POS that can meet the demands of splitting bills for multiple people.

bird's eye view of a table set with lots of dishes

5. Continue the Party

The bars may have closed their doors, but your patrons may not be ready to call it a night just yet. Keep the party going by giving your customers a side of entertainment with one of your tasty dishes!

You may want to bust out a karaoke machine to keep your patrons busy while they’re waiting for their food. Who wouldn’t love a chance to rock on with fellow night owls?

In a survey of 500+ restaurant goers42% of millennials said that games at a restaurant influence their decision to go. Make sure your restaurant appeals to that crowd by adding game tables and dart boards throughout your restaurant.  You may also want to go the old school route by lining up a couple of arcade games against one of your restaurant’s walls. Your tired and worn out customers will love the simplicity of these old school additions.

You’ve forfeited sleep and pleasure to run your late night restaurant. Make sure it gets noticed with the help of some popular social media sites, lots of unique decor, and some added entertainment for your late night guests.

Photo of Alex Fainblum
by Alex Fainblum

Alex is a Marketing Coordinator at TouchBistro where she writes about food and restaurant dining experiences. She’s a lover of all things chocolate covered but her true passion lies in late-night eating.

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