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Marketing

13 Restaurant Promotion Ideas for Takeout and Delivery

by

Dana Krook

Need restaurant promotion ideas specifically for your takeout and delivery business?

We’ve got you covered.

In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants across the United States and Canada to shut down their dine-in service and focus on takeout and delivery. As restaurants reopen for on-premise dining, many customers will still feel safer eating off-premise. For that reason, it’s essential to continue promoting this revenue stream.

Fortunately, you don’t need to have a big marketing budget to make your off-premise offerings attractive to customers. These unique restaurant promotion ideas will help your takeout and delivery revenue stream stand out even as your restaurant resumes dine-in service. 

Keep reading to learn:

  • Best practices for restaurant marketing
  • 13 restaurant promotion ideas that work for takeout and delivery

Let’s get started!

3 Restaurant Marketing Best Practices

Before we dive into restaurant promotional ideas for takeaway and delivery, let’s make sure you understand restaurant marketing basics.

Here are three best practices for marketing your restaurant.

1. Offer discounts when business is slow and not when it’s going well

Don’t give people a discount when demand is high, because that’s when they’ll pay full price. Instead, offer promotions and discounts to help aspects of your business that are struggling. 

For example, if you receive an influx of delivery orders for dinner but don’t see much off-premise business for lunch, offer discounts for lunch delivery, not for dinner delivery.

2. Reach customers through multiple platforms

Promote all of your marketing offers across every customer touchpoint, including your:

  • email newsletter
  • social media channels
  • website
  • on premise

When you have omnichannel marketing efforts, you increase the chances that customers will know about your promotions.

3. Promote your COVID-19 safety measures

It’s important to tell your customers about your restaurant’s measures to protect customers and staff from COVID-19. Doing so makes people feel safe ordering from your restaurant. 

Mention the safety and hygiene measures that your restaurant and its staff are taking on your restaurant’s website, online ordering platforms, social media, email newsletter, and at your restaurant.

13 Unique Restaurant Promotion Ideas that Work for Takeout and Delivery

We’ve already taught you how to market your restaurant’s online ordering service. Now we’re going to share more than a dozen unique restaurant promotion ideas that will help your restaurant continue to attract off-premise customers even as on-premise dining resumes. 

1. Takeout happy hour

Many cities are allowing restaurants and bars to serve cocktails and other alcoholic beverages in to-go containers. If your restaurant is in an area where this is permitted, create a takeout happy hour.

Offer specials and reduced prices on takeout orders placed with alcoholic drinks between 4 and 6 p.m., when business is typically slow between lunch and dinner service, and when happy hour usually takes place.

Inspiration

Instagram post from Brooklyn’s The Four Horsemen wine bar

Image source

Brooklyn’s The Four Horsemen wine bar is serving takeaway drinks in these fun pouches.

Why it works

Takeout happy hour helps your restaurant drum up business when business is typically slow. It also helps diners feel a sense of normalcy by bringing back the tradition of after-work drinks in a new way. 

2. Takeout lunch special

Many restaurants offer a dine-in lunch special that consists of two or three courses for a bargain price. Consider creating a lunch special for takeout.

Inspiration

Instagram post from New York City's Top Thai restaurant

Image source

New York City’s Top Thai restaurant offers a lunch special for takeout that includes an appetizer, entree, and beverage.

Why it works

Restaurants traditionally have dine-in only lunch specials to promote business during a slower meal period. Dinner is typically the busiest meal for both dine in and takeout. This unique restaurant promotion idea encourages takeout business during off-peak hours.

3. Social media contest

Hold a contest on social media to give away a gift card or meal. Deliver it to the winning social media follower and their friend, facilitating a socially distant meal. Publish a post about your contest and ask followers to tag a friend they’d share with in order to enter. 

Inspiration

Instagram post from the Oak & Iron cocktail bar in Thousand Oaks, California

Image source

Oak & Iron cocktail bar in Thousand Oaks, California is giving away gift cards to one lucky Instagram follower and two of their friends. 

Why it works

A social media contest is a great way to raise awareness about your takeout offerings. When people tag their friends, they’re spreading the word about your restaurant to people who may not know about it.

4. Corona beer promo 

This cheeky restaurant promotional idea involves promoting Corona beer during the coronavirus pandemic. Let customers send their friends a pack of Corona beer alongside a meal from your restaurant.

Inspiration

Corona cookbook by the Northside Cafe

Image source

The owners of Winterset, Iowa’s Northside Cafe recently published a cookbook with recipes that feature Corona beer. The cookbook is designed to help keep the cafe afloat during these difficult times.

Why it works

This unique restaurant promotion is funny and will draw viral attention. It also helps people feel more connected to friends by encouraging them to send drinks to friends.

5. Family takeout meal 

Offer family-size takeout offering bundles, in addition to a la carte offerings. For example, you could sell a whole chicken, three sides, two bottles of soda, and a dessert as a package available for takeout and delivery.

Inspiration

Takeout meal kits by Junzi

Image source

New York City fast-casual restaurant Junzi offers customizable family meals for takeout.

Why it works

This restaurant promotion idea makes mealtime convenient for your customers. They’ve been stuck inside for months and are probably tired of cooking for themselves. A family takeout bundle is a turnkey solution to feeding the whole family.

6. Office takeout lunch 

Remind people of what it was like to go out to eat for lunch during the workweek when they were in the office by offering a weekly rotating meal for an “office” lunch special. Encourage people to talk with coworkers over video chat while eating to simulate an office lunch.

Inspiration

Image of P.F. Chang's takeout offerings

Image source

Chinese cuisine chain P. F. Chang’s offers lunch bowls for takeout and delivery that are perfect for a socially distant midday meal with coworkers.

Why it works

This restaurant promotion helps people feel a sense of normalcy during the workweek by encouraging them to connect with colleagues and give them an excuse not to have to eat their cooking.

7. Themed date night at home 

Offer to-go prix fixe meals for love birds. Add special touches to add value and make it different from regular takeout, like a themed playlist, candles, and the option to add in a bottle of wine. 

Inspiration

Instagram post from Philadelphia’s Abe Fisher restaurant

Image source

Philadelphia’s Abe Fisher restaurant offers “Dinner for Two” packages and multi-serving cocktails for pickup on weekends, which are perfect for a date night in.

Why it works

This restaurant promotional idea adds value by being a one-stop-shop date in a bag. It lets people enjoy a date night while staying safe inside.

8. Virtual supper club 

Supper clubs are a popular Midwest institution. They’re dinner-only restaurants serving comfort food favorites like prime rib alongside cocktails. They also double as social clubs. 

Why not create a virtual supper club?

Make takeout a community experience by offering a limited number of weekly meals regularly. Have people sign up to pick up or deliver the meal. Add the social aspect by sending diners a link to a virtual meeting to chat with fellow diners. They can meet new people while sharing a meal.

Inspiration

Instagram post from Austin’s Foxtail Supper Club

Image source

Austin’s Foxtail Supper Club will send diners ingredients for their meal. Customers choose a time slot for a live video conference, during which they cook their meals with other supper club attendees and socialize. 

Why it works

People miss meeting new people. This takeout promotion adds a social aspect to dining at home.

9. Live music 

This promo is similar to a supper club, but instead of focusing on the conversation between diners, the focus is on musical entertainment. Hire a musician to live stream a concert exclusively for customers who order from you on a specific day to watch together.

Inspiration

Facebook post from the Refectory Restaurant & Bistro in Columbus, Ohio

Image source

The Refectory Restaurant & Bistro in Columbus, Ohio has a virtual dinner music series in which they stream a live performance through their Facebook page and encourage viewers to order a meal.

Why it works

Food is just one part of the restaurant experience. Ambiance is also important. This idea works because it makes customers feel like they’re at a restaurant.

10. Kids eat free takeout meal

Create a package deal for parents who are working from home and kids who are learning remotely. Offer a free meal for kids when parents order an entree.

Inspiration

Instagram post from the burger chain Red Robin

Image source

Kid-friendly burger chain Red Robin offers a free kid’s meal with an adult entree on the first Wednesday of the month at specific locations. 

Why it works

This idea gives busy parents a break from planning lunch, and gives kids something to look forward to to break up the monotony of school or distance learning. 

11. Holiday meals 

Offer holiday-related meal packages for celebrating at home, such as a barbecue for Labor Day or a takeout turkey and sides for Thanksgiving. 

Inspiration

Instagram post from Boston Market

Image source

Boston Market offers a delivery service for holiday meals that feed between four and 12 people.  

Why it works

Everyone celebrates holidays with food. This restaurant promotion idea takes the meal prep burden off customers so they can spend more time with their families instead of slaving away in the kitchen.

12. Limited time offers 

Send SMS messages to your loyal customers with limited time offers when business is slow. For example, you could offer a free dessert to the first 15 takeout or delivery customers who use the code “SWEET.”

Inspiration

Instagram post from Carl's Jr.

Image source

Fast food chain Carl’s Jr. used SMS marketing to offer customers a discount on a burger combo.

Why it works

This unique restaurant promotion idea creates a sense of urgency that makes people want to act immediately and get in on a good deal. They may not have otherwise thought to order from you at that time. 

13. Cocktails on demand 

Take advantage of being able to sell alcoholic beverages to go by offering a cocktails-on-demand delivery service. Package cocktails in bottles and give customers ice, cups, straws, and garnishes. Keep the delivery radius small to ensure speedy delivery. 

Inspiration

London’s Ladies & Gents Cocktail Bar's delivery options

Image source

London’s Ladies & Gents Cocktail Bar delivers multi-serving cocktail bottles to customers on demand.

Why it works

Customers will probably also order food from you while they’re ordering drinks. This unique restaurant promotion idea will also likely get some press coverage. 

How to Measure Restaurant Promotion Success

Check data from your POS system to understand how successful your takeout promotions are. Look for increases in the number of orders, upsells, and bill size during the promotion times.

You can also measure success by seeing if the press picked up any of your unique promotions. If you haven’t already, set up Google notifications for your restaurant’s name, so you get an alert every time you appear in an online article.

Keep up your restaurant’s off-premise dining momentum as on-premise dining picks back up by implementing one or more of these restaurant promotion ideas for takeout and delivery.


Dana is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, sharing tips for and stories of restaurateurs turning their passion into success. She loves homemade hot sauce, deep fried pickles and finding excuses to consume real maple syrup.

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