Five Ways to Draw a Lunch Crowd  

Attracting a regular crowd is no easy feat but attracting a lunch crowd can be even more difficult. Lunch customers are typically on a time crunch, so they’re looking for convenience and a restaurant that fits their needs. 
According to Technomic’s 2016 Lunch report, 32 percent of customers say the reason they bring lunch to work is because it saves time.  How can your restaurant draw a lunch crowd?  Save your customers time and make convenience your priority through takeout or delivery.

Award your  customers’ continued business through a loyalty program and incentives along with implementing guest surveys to obtain feedback about their experience. Taking these steps and more can help your restaurant attract the lunch crowd you desire and ultimately boost your bottom line.  



People usually don’t make reservations for a lunch break. However, due to time constraints they don’t always have time to wait for their food. Minimize the wait time for your customers by allowing them access to real-time wait times through your restaurant’s website or mobile app. Allowing customers to add themselves to a wait list in advance and helping them avoid a long wait time leads to a better guest experience. 

Quick service and fast casual restaurants funnel through their lunch crowds with the help of self-service kiosks. These kiosks allow for less wait-time and can help customers receive their orders quickly and efficiently. These touchscreen options are more likely to be used if they are offered in customers’ favorite restaurants.   

Keep in mind that mobile payments can be very attractive to customers. When the mobile payment option is available, over half of your customers will choose to pay this way.   

Lunch time is a luxury that your customers cannot afford to waste. Catering to your customers’ lunch needs can help increase lunch sales.  


Takeout or Delivery  

The constraints of a designated lunch time can be a challenge for diners. An hour doesn’t seem to be enough time to sit down and eat, so customers will pick up food to-go or opt to get it delivered. When it comes to customer satisfaction, the speed of delivery is the biggest factor. At least 46 percent of smartphone users use their phones once a month to order takeout or delivery from a restaurant. 

Creating a defined to-go order pick-up station in your FOH or adding curbside pickup will also allow customers to get in and out quickly. You can use your guest management system to create a pick-up station for to-go meals. With the takeout tab on your system, staff will be able to see real-order time updates without having to go into the kitchen to check, if your front of house system is integrated to your back of house. By integrating the two, your staff will be better prepared to serve guests.   

Since convenience is a priority during lunch, a takeout or delivery option can lead to more sales. Customers that order online tend to return to the restaurant from which they had food delivered.   

Limited Menu  Options 

The best way to draw a crowd during a certain time of day is to limit the availability of menu items. Offer a limited menu so that your customers know that they can only get a specific food item during lunch hours. With a kitchen display system, limiting your menu options is easy to implement. A KDS will help you route specific food to stations in the kitchen and help your cooks prep for the lunch rush.   

Another option for limited time menu items is to apply the limited time feature to prices. Pair two selections on the menu together in a “choose two” package for a set price. That way, customers feel that they are getting an exclusive offer and will come back for their next lunch break. 


Order Ahead 

Encourage your customers to conquer their lunch time by allowing them to place their orders through your website or mobile app before arriving – even for their onsite meals. With the right technology in place, you can accomplish this. Your point-of-sale will need to be integrated to a kitchen display systemthat has built-in features for customers to order their meals in advance, whether it’s through your website or app, allowing the kitchen to be prepared for incoming orders. Once the guest arrives at the restaurant, your guest management system will notify the kitchen that they’ve been seated, and your KDS will automatically fire the order. Your guests will appreciate this option when they want the experience of dining in but within a small, time frame. 

Loyalty Programs, Incentives and Guest Surveys

It’s no secret, when customers have a good experience, word spreads fast. Word-of-mouth can be the best form of advertising for restaurants. When a loyal customer base is created, restaurateurs can reward them for each of their visits to the restaurant. Having a guest management system that collects customer information in your guest book will allow for future targeted marketing efforts, as well as building loyalty. Implementing a mobile app that allows for rewards also drives engagement and loyalty. For example, Chick fil A allows customers to build up points to earn free treats, keeping their customers coming back time and time again.  

Once the guest’s experience is complete, further develop their loyalty by allowing them to provide feedback about their experience through guest surveys. Tracking customer activity and feedback can also be done through your restaurant’s guest management system. If your FOH technology is tied to your BOH technology, you can tie the operational data to the visit to understand their entire experience and then focus on making it better when they return. This operational data can provide restaurateurs insights into what appeals to the lunch crowd.   

Bring in the Lunch Crowd  

Lunch is an important time of day for working people. Customers are focused on convenience during this hectic time of day. Consider applying these methods to your restaurant operation planning to increase your lunch sales and draw that midday crowd. Even though technology is changing the way that consumers dine out, small changes to your restaurant strategy can help you overcome the challenge of drawing a lunch crowd time and time again.