Aside from serving delicious food and beverages, one of the keys to running a successful restaurant is providing a smooth and enjoyable experience for guests. One important aspect of that experience is the quality and placement of the print pieces your restaurant provides its guests. These prints serve an important purpose – they’re essential for communicating relevant messages that guests will need and want to know about.
We’ve worked with many restaurants in our 90+ years of experience, and in that time, we’ve learned exactly which prints they need to be successful. Keep reading for our best advice on how to create all of the essential prints for any restaurant.
Naturally, the most obvious print restaurants will need to plan for is their menu. Customers will engage with your menu more than any other print while dining, so the experience they have with your menu will be critical to their overall impression of the restaurant. For this reason, we recommend most of our restaurant clients print their menus on a waterproof, rip-proof synthetic. It elevates the look of the menu, will make it easy for your staff to clean, and as a bonus, it will help you save on reprinting costs over time. However, if you plan to change your menu on a daily or weekly basis, it may be more cost-effective to talk to your printer about what paper weight options they offer. Instead of a synthetic menu, you might consider using a heavier cardstock or other premium paper to retain a more luxurious look, even with a disposable menu.
In addition to your primary food menu, your restaurant may also want to provide a drink menu to display any alcoholic beverages you offer, along with an additional menu card to promote seasonal items. Many guests will enjoy browsing your list of specialty beverage and limited-time food options and giving these items their own menus can help ensure they receive a promotional boost.
The other print guests tend to interact with most at restaurants is a table topper or table tent. These items typically sit right on the tabletop for each guest to review at their leisure. We often see restaurants use these prints as a supplement to their menu to promote a featured dish, dessert, contest, or rewards program. Because table toppers sit directly in guests’ sight lines, they can be an important resource for restaurant to communicate their most important messages apart from the standard menu.
To enhance the table topper experience, we also like to recommend restaurants include a QR code with a link to a landing page. When used strategically, QR codes can extend a guest’s relationship with your brand and keep them engaged, even after they leave your restaurant. While some brands have recently opted to switch to digital-only menus, many of our clients have found that digital elements work better as a support for physical prints rather than as a replacement. Physical prints present more opportunities for interaction between servers and guests, which helps improve guests’ overall dining experience.
When guests order carryout from your restaurant, they unfortunately may not have the opportunity to review your printed menus or table toppers. However, your brand can still leave them with a valuable message from their restaurant experience. Many of our restaurant clients utilize bag stuffers, or small prints they can slip into customers’ to-go bags. Each carryout guest is sure to see the bag stuffer’s message when pull out their food at home, which makes these prints an effective way to reach an audience that may otherwise have limited exposure to your brand. Many of the restaurants we work with choose to use their bag stuffers as a to-go version of their table toppers, with messages that promote their rewards sign-ups, limited-time menu items, contests, and more.
Back in the restaurant, we have found large posters to be an effective way to catch guests’ attention. As the largest print pieces in the restaurant, posters are great at communicating quick, important messages with bright, splashy images. This might include seasonal menu items, featured beverages, hiring opportunities, and other new restaurant announcements. Because these posters often hang in the front lobby or in hallways, keep in mind that you may only have a few seconds to get your message across to guests before they pass by. On these prints, it’s best to keep verbiage short and simple, and instead let the images and visual designs do the heavy lifting to engage guests.
Your restaurant’s front doors and windows are another key spot to display critical information to guests. When you consider your storefront signage, you’ll first want to consider what information you need to communicate to guests before they ever enter your restaurant. This might include standard and/or seasonal operating hours, special events information, or directions for picking up carryout orders. If the information you need to display will be short-term or seasonal, we recommend using door clings, which are easy to attach and remove as needed.
The final print we recommend for any restaurant is a series of discount cards that managers can use to provide guests with a free menu item or gift card. In the past, we’ve seen restaurants create versions of these cards that provide a free appetizer, free kid’s meal, or complimentary $20 toward their next bill. These cards are very versatile and allow your restaurant managers to provide a memorable experience in a variety of circumstances. For example, they might give a card to a first-time customer to encourage them to add an appetizer to their order or use them to smooth things over with a disgruntled guest. Additionally, we’ve seen brands create versions of these cards to support different groups in the community, such as first responders, healthcare workers, and teachers. If your restaurant hopes to establish itself as a leader in customer experience, it never hurts to have a stock of these local store marketing materials on hand.