50 Buzzworthy Bar and Restaurant Promotion Ideas to Improve Slow Nights
7 Min Read By Buzztime
Great bar and restaurant promotion ideas get people talking and get guests in the door. These 50 buzzworthy bar and restaurant promotion ideas do both. They’re budget friendly, easy to launch, and designed to boost business on slow nights.
Partner for Profit
Don’t go it alone. Partner with another business or charity. They’ll promote the event to their customer base for value-added exposure.
Charity Guest Bartenders
This is one of the easiest weeknight bar and restaurant promotion ideas. Invite a charity to send a guest bartender or two – with all tips and 10 percent of sales going to that charity.
Invite tip clubs and business networking groups to hold midweek mixers and speed-networking events at your venue.
Craft beer gurus love trying new beers, so build your bar and restaurant promotion ideas around the arrival of new brews.
These bar and restaurant promotion ideas tap into every guest’s need for a little friendly competition.
Live Trivia Night
Guests want to beat the midweek blues and you’d like a boost in weeknight business. So, host a live trivia event.
Cornhole. Beer pong. Flip cup. These backyard beer-drinking classic games make ideal bar and restaurant promotion ideas. When it’s cold outside, just bring the games indoors.
Guests go all in for poker tournaments.
Be a PR Magnet
Maximize the impact of these epic bar and restaurant promotion ideas by alerting local media: TV, radio, and online or print news.
Celebrate a Milestone
Located in the Northeast? Celebrate the first 70 degree day with 70 cent burgers or something PR-worthy.
Break a Record
Got an idea for a crazy record to break? Apply to the Guinness Book of World Records as one of your bar or restaurant promotion ideas. Even if you don’t succeed, you’ll get crowds – and media coverage – for the attempt.
Bring in a Celeb
Yes, you may have to pay them but yes, it’s worth it. Think of all the midweek bar and restaurant promotions you could build around a local celebrity at your place.
Battle of the Bartenders
Every month, challenge two bartenders to a mix off. Offer bar and restaurant promotions around the drinks they whip up. Let guests vote on their favorite.
Be the ‘Home’ Of
What are you known for? Seriously spicy chicken wings? A different homemade dessert every day? Start promoting yourself as the “home” of something noteworthy.
Offer a massive portion of one of your menu items like 20 chicken tenders. Reward anyone who eats it all within a set time period with a free t-shirt.
Decade Theme Nights
Kick it old school with nostalgic bar and restaurant promotion ideas. Schedule your theme nights for Tuesdays and Thursdays when Buzztime’s nationally scheduled Glory Daze trivia runs.
90’s Rap Night
What do Tupac, LL Cool J, and the Beastie Boys have in common? They get everyone dancing. Throwback rap is popular with trendy millennials and Generation Xers.
80’s Fever Night
Invite guests to wear their 1980’s apparel and enjoy drink and food specials based on 1980s prices.
Appeal to older patrons and cool hipsters with a 1970’s night complete with Led Zeppelin and Beatles tunes.
A League of Your Own
The easiest way to bring guests back week after week? Launch a midweek league and these bar and restaurant promotion ideas.
Sponsor a Sports Team
Sponsoring an adult kickball or softball team in a league is one of the simplest bar or restaurant promotion ideas. Invite the team to your place after games for special league-only offers.
Get millennials into the game by hosting complimentary dart lessons once a month.
Trivia leagues are popular at bars across the country. Get in on the trend.
School was never as cool as these education-based bar and restaurant promotion ideas.
Bring in a dance instructor to teach your guests some moves: from ballroom to salsa, square dancing to hip-hop.
Plant and Pour
Host a Plant Nite – a hot trend that’s sprouting up. Guests receive supplies and instruction to create potted plants and terrariums. There are thousands of instructors across North America ready to host Plant Nite at your place.
Arts and Crafts
Serve cool craft brews and bring in a local craft or paint instructor to lead a workshop.
Believe in Magic
Hire a magician to teach guests cool card tricks.
Get in the Game
Show your team spirit and bring the fans with these bar and restaurant promotion ideas.
Pre-Game Pep Rally
You’re probably busy on gameday but what about the evening before? Invite fans to get hype with a pep rally. Got extra space outdoors? Fire up the grill to create a tailgate vibe.
Fantasy League Headquarters
Cater to fantasy football players with clever bar and restaurant promotion ideas that pitch your place as their “headquarters.”
Best Day Ever
For instant bar and restaurant promotion ideas, look to the calendar. But don’t focus on the obvious holidays. Get creative with lesser known days of the year. Here are 12 calendar-based restaurant promotion ideas:
Mid-January: Resolution Ruiner Party
Have fun with the fact that just eight percent of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. Create restaurant promotion ideas and specials for your richest appetizers and best booze.
February 2: Groundhog Day
Add intrigue to this holiday by offering two for one drinks all night if the groundhog sees his shadow – or two for one appetizers if he doesn’t.
March 14: Pi Day
3.14 is “pi” in mathematics – get it? These nerdy restaurant promotion ideas can add up to big sales. Offer $3.14 appetizers or a $31.40 prix fixe menu. Or, include complimentary slices of homemade pie with every order. Also, apple pie shots anyone?
April 1: April Fool’s Day Joke Competition
Fool me once, fool me twice…ok, we can’t remember the saying either. Host a “joke off” event. Invite guests to tell their best joke and let the crowd vote for the ultimate joker.
May 4: Star Wars Day
“May the Fourth” be with you as you invite guests to come in costume to enjoy restaurant promotion ideas and drink special inspired by the hit movies.
July 21: Hot Dog Day
Cater to sports fans? Promote complimentary hot dogs – plus peanuts and cracker jacks. Call it a “Day at the Ball Park” and turn on the baseball games.
August 26: National Dog Day
You’ll fetch big crowds if you have space outdoors to host patrons and their pooches. Put out water and offer complimentary dog treats. Just don’t let the doggies indoors as it likely isn’t allowed per your city’s health codes.
September 19: Talk Like a Pirate Day
Servers could don eyepatches and speak like pirates. Bartenders can offer 2-for-1 specials on all rum drinks. P.S. Located in Michigan? This is an official holiday.
Early October: Oktoberfest
Create a special menu featuring Oktoberfest brews and German bites like soft pretzels, schnitzel (fried pork), and more.
Black Friday Escape
The day after Thanksgiving means crazy shoppers are on the loose! Give them a reason to unwind afterwards at your place with crazy good restaurant promotion ideas and specials…like a Black Friday Free Fry Day. Offer free wings and fries from 5-7 p.m. and you can almost guarantee you’ll see big happy hour crowds.
Mid-December: Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
This is one of the most fun bar and restaurant promotion ideas. Give $2 off any drink if the patron is donning a hideous sweater. Or, make it an event and send the top three ugliest sweater wearers home with prizes.
Set the Stage for Performing Arts
By stage, we just mean a little floor space in your venue to launch one of these performance-based bar and restaurant promotion ideas and events.
Open Mic Night: DJs
Everyone wants to be a DJ, so let them! Invite local DJs – both professional and amateur – to spin a half hour set. You’ll turn the tables on slow nights.
Open Mic: Comedy
Comedy clubs wish they could be like your bar or restaurant. You’ve already got the great food and drinks, you just need the mic and the comedians. Designate one night a week as Open Mic Comedy Night.
Open Mic: Upgraded
Basic open mic night is boring. As one of your go-to bar and restaurant promotion ideas, “gamify” Open Mic night by letting the audience vote on the best performer who is rewarded with a $25 gift certificate.
Nothing turns up the volume on business better than a live band. Just be sure to schedule the band for after your dinner rush – no one likes yelling over dinner.
While live music is one of the most common restaurant promotion ideas, go beyond the mic and invite in the local theater. Pitch it to the theater as a promotional event: a few of their actors can perform one scene from an upcoming play. Let them sell tickets on site, too.
Invite the local radio station in to broadcast remotely from your bar. Most stations require payment, but you can always offer trade instead. The on-air personalities could even host an open mic night.
Spice up your décor by featuring a local artist’s work on your walls every quarter. As one of your bar and restaurant promotion ideas, host a VIP “gallery opening” on your slowest night.
Targeted Bar and Restaurant Promotion Ideas
Want to reach a specific audience? We’ve got you covered.
Launch restaurant promotion ideas designed to bring singles together. Host a stoplight party. Guests wear green if they’re single, yellow if it’s complicated, and red if they’re taken. You’ll be seeing lots of green.
Host a perfect pairing night for couples. Ask your liquor distributor if they can send a wine rep to do a tasting. You’ll likely see lots of double dates – and extra sales.
Nearby Office Employees
Ask a local company if you can drop off coupons for complimentary appetizers Monday through Thursday.
One of the easiest restaurant promotion ideas for parents is to offer entertainment for their kids – like the Buzztime digital arcade.
Mom’s spa night out is one of the best restaurant promotion ideas to bring in weeknight crowds. Hire a masseuse to give chair massages.
Show that you’re in the know with Buzztime’s Trendalicious Trivia every Thursday night.
Think nurses, law enforcement, teachers…honor their hard work with midweek bar and restaurant promotion ideas like drink specials and complimentary apps.
Baby boomers don’t like to admit they’re “seniors” but the right restaurant promotion ideas can entice them to fess up anyways. Try offering seven percent off seven days a week from 5 to 7 p.m.
We hope these 50 bar and restaurant promotion ideas inspire you to take your events to the next level.