Winter wonderlands look pretty, but they’re not all that good for pizza restaurants, as many customers huddle indoors by the fire and pop frozen pizzas into the oven instead of going out to eat. But pizzeria owners can offset the disadvantages of bad weather with some smart marketing, and now is the time to start making your plans. Here are five ideas to heat up your pizzeria’s sales during the cold winter months ahead:
1. Snow day offers. When snow days shut down the local schools in Epping, New Hampshire, Telly’s Restaurant and Pizzeria has been known to give away free pizzas to students. Specifically, the eatery has offered a free kids meal with every adult entrée, thus ensuring that every giveaway still rang up dollar signs on the cash register.
2. Create a festive atmosphere with decorations. Wintertime brings the holidays, starting with Halloween and stretching all the way through Valentine’s Day. Each holiday offers the opportunity to spruce up your pizzeria’s atmosphere with seasonal decorations. Halloween is an especially popular time for adults and kids alike, so get creative—and a little creepy—with your decorations. For Christmas, put out candles and poinsettias and use holiday colors, such as red, green and silver. And don’t forget the mistletoe!
3. Host a Halloween costume contest. Peppino’s Restaurant & Catering Co., located in Syracuse, New York, sponsors an annual Halloween dress-up contest for kids age 12 and under. Customers are encouraged to take pictures of their kids in full costume and submit them to Peppino’s, to be posted and judged by the company’s fans on Facebook. Peppino’s has also used Halloween as an opportunity to launch new menu items, such as risotto bombs, fried ravioli and pasta pies.
4. Partner with local nonprofits. We hope you’re supporting good local causes throughout the year—it’s something locally owned, independent pizzerias are famous for—but the Thanksgiving/Christmas season is an especially good time for community outreach. Partner up with Toys for Tots and get your customers to bring in toys for children. Support local food pantries, open your doors to the hungry and homeless at Thanksgiving, or throw fundraisers for your local women’s shelter—remember, domestic violence goes through the roof during the holiday season, so it’s a particularly tough time for abused women and children.
5. Go Christmas caroling. A group of employees at Anna’s Pizza & Pasta, located in Winnebago, Illinois, got together a couple of years ago and sang Christmas carols to residents in local neighborhoods. They also took up donations for Toys for Tots in the process. In addition to spreading holiday cheer, the caroling group drummed up great PR for their restaurant, including coverage in the Journal Standard newspaper.
6. Pair your pizzas with winter beers. A pizzeria can never go wrong with seasonal beers, and winter brews can be easily paired with existing pizzas on your menu. Winter beers, such as stouts, porters and barrel-aged varieties, tend to have a full, meltier mouthfeel than summer brews. Porters and stouts pair deliciously with intense flavors, such as roasted, smoked or barbecued meats and also go down nicely with chocolate and sweet desserts.
7. Offer a soup of the day. When soup’s on, sales can go up in cold weather. If adding soups to your kitchen operation sounds like a lot of trouble, consider working with premade soups and then adding your own special touch with ingredients you’ve already got in your kitchen, such as canned diced tomatoes, pasta and fresh veggies. Here are some ideas to get you started: