Women love to gather in groups for luncheons, and your restaurant can be the perfect venue for their meetings. These groups may include bridge clubs, social clubs such as the Red Hat Society, nonprofit organizations or informal get-togethers of moms or close friends. Develop a marketing plan with these groups in mind, and you can become their regular venue of choice. Here’s how to do it:
1. Create a flyer. The flyer should note your pizzeria’s capacity to host large groups—whether in a banquet room, private dining area or reserved tables—and include a sample menu and pricing.
2. Reach out to local women’s groups. Ask if they need space for an upcoming luncheon and offer to send them flyers with more information about your restaurant, pricing and menu.
3. Provide samples. Track down the organization’s officers and offer free samples of your food along with the flyers. Once they taste your restaurant’s fare, they’re more likely to book an event with you.
4. Create four seasonal menus. Four seasonal menus (for winter, spring, summer and fall) will allow potential guests to see what a luncheon at your restaurant would be like at any time of the year. Make sure these menus highlight some of your signature pizzas, dishes and desserts.
5. Plan your decor. Sticking with the traditional colors of the season is the best approach. In the fall, for example, use red placemats or orange napkins, incorporate pumpkins or autumn leaves into the overall scheme, and set up miniature pumpkins as “place cards” at each guest’s seat. Fresh seasonal flowers in vases are also a nice touch.
6. Choose your waitstaff carefully. Excellent service is a must to keep these groups coming back on a regular basis. Bring in your best waiters and waitresses to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that all of your guests receive their food in a timely fashion.
7. Be prepared. Once you’ve booked the event, obtain a head count from the group leader so you’ll know how much food you will need. Ask if there will be any vegetarians in the group or if any members have food allergies and offer menu alternatives for these guests. Make sure the tables and chairs have been set up before the group arrives. It’s also a good idea to have an extra table and a few extra chairs on hand.
8. Provide a goodbye treat. Create takeaway bags that feature your restaurant’s logo and fill them with freshly baked cookies, brownies or other tasty treats. Hand them out to your luncheon guests as they leave the restaurant. They will remember this special touch and also will have a bag of goodies to share with friends they encounter later in the day. This is great PR for your restaurant!
When developing your four seasonal luncheon menus, keep in mind what your guests will be hungry for during that time of the year.
• Winter. The winter menu should include comfort foods, such as a fresh tomato-basil soup or a hearty minestrone.
• Spring. Use in-season fresh produce for springtime. If you have specialty salads on your regular menu, create a sampler and serve it in salad bar form. Put together a calzone with some of your guests’ favorite ingredients of the season—fresh spinach, zucchini and/or rosemary are possible options.
• Summer. Tea sandwiches can be a refreshing treat. Use crisp cucumbers, a sun-dried tomato and basil spread or a light chicken or tuna salad. Offer a few specialty lemonades, such as strawberry, raspberry and blueberry, or provide lemon-flavored sparkling water. Make sure to offer several salad options, including a fruit salad consisting of, for example, freshly cut strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, bananas and pineapples.
• Fall. Use pumpkin and squash in soups, ravioli and baked goods, such as bread or muffins.
The marketing advantage of catering to women’s groups should be obvious: Female customers do a great job of spreading the word about a positive restaurant experience to their friends. Make it a memorable experience for them, and other groups will want you to host their luncheons, too.