It's All About Atmosphere

You probably spend a lot of time worrying about what goes on in the back of the house, and you should—a quality product and a high-functioning kitchen crew are at the heart of all successful pizzerias. However, you should also remember that effective marketing is relative to controlling how people feel when they come into your store. A satisfied custome""r brings repeat business, and if you’re looking to drive traffic on slow days and give your customers some pleasant distractions while they wait, incorporating in-store entertainment and/or sign spinners, is an option to consider.

Since 2006, Scott D’Agostino, owner of D’Agostino’s Pizza & Pub ( in Chicago, has held a weekly Tuesday Family Night with balloon artist Smarty Pants and his face-painting partner Miss Dena. The married duo entertains families and hands out balloons fashioned into everything from simple dogs to complex pizzas—and the kids love it. “I would say 35% of our sales on Family Night are driven by Smarty Pants,” Scott D’Agostino points out. “This idea can take days that are generally slow and make them profitable. Most kids don’t care if they get  just a balloon sword or a hat—they just want to be engaged and entertained.”

Smarty Pants himself points out that entertainers have one purpose in a restaurant setting—to make sure people are having a good time. “People come to restaurants for three reasons: food, pricing and the experience,” the balloon aficionado explains. “I can’t control the food or pricing, but when someone comes in on Family Night, they can tell something special is going on just by seeing the kids wearing the balloon hats.” Best of all, adults also enjoy the balloons—not only about getting a sculpture to take home (kids get first dibs on them), but seeing how they’re made.