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As you welcome diners back to your restaurant, build a solid marketing strategy that instils confidence in diners and aligns with social responsibility. Don’t know where to get started? Here are some examples to kickstart your brainstorm.

Marketing a restaurant hasn’t been easy since the onslaught of COVID-19. These questions remain top of mind: How do restaurants encourage patronage when the virus is known to spread socially? How do you promote dining out amid restrictions and regulations, and when COVID-19 still remains a risk?

As management and operations work hand in hand to ensure restrictions are in place, and that financial matters and menu re-engineering are in check, your marketing team needs to ensure a COVID-19-ready restaurant is packaged and presented to diners.

Here are 5 tips on how to market your restaurant reopenings, with examples from top restaurants across the region.

1. Announce your reopening and encourage reservations.

Update your website’s home page with COVID-19 notices, update dine-in availability and reservation slots online, and update your Google My Business listing with new opening hours.

The Lo & Behold Group in Singapore updated their homepage with a pop-up alert and a notification bar that direct diners to their COVID-19 updates.

When you announce dine-in service resumption, encourage reservations to make things easier:

  • Front-of-house gets clarity on incoming diner traffic for crowd control and ample time for sanitisation of surfaces.
  • To adhere to any party size limitations, you can add disclaimers on Chope’s booking widget.
  • Contact tracing for all incoming diners.

Seed Jakarta encouraged reservations through Chope.

2. Give your staff face time on social media feeds.

Diners don’t just return to restaurants they trust — they go back to people they trust to take care of them. A reassuring smile or feature on members of your staff will humanise your restaurant’s social media feed. After all, your restaurant’s not all about food — it’s about the people behind the food and service you take pride in.  Odette in Singapore announced their reopening with a picture of the team.

Frites in Hong Kong announced their reopening with a picture of the team.

3. Show your commitment to diner safety through intention and action.

Hygiene and safe distancing are top of mind when diners look for a restaurant to dine out. Be direct and clear in your hygiene and safe distancing policies across channels. Walk the talk by showing your restaurant’s promise on social media, coupled with evidence of such measures if they’re in line with your brand image. As you inform diners about the do’s and don’ts in your restaurants, show what your restaurant is doing to keep clean and adhere to regulations. 

PS.Cafe in Singapore posted a photo of a staff member wearing a face mask and shield.

Atlas Coffeehouse in Singapore posted their commitment to keeping diners safe.

4. Play up your restaurant’s strengths.

Help diners make an informed decision on where to dine out. As they are more likely to look for areas that are not enclosed and provide fresh air and better ventilation, show off your alfresco, courtyard or patio dining experiences. Show how spacious your indoor interiors are. On the food front, entice diners with menu items that won’t travel well (eg. raw food, steak, dessert) so diners know they’d have to dine in instead of getting food delivered.

Greyhound Cafe in Jakarta posted pictures of their alfresco area, highlighting its greenery.

Aesop’s Bangkok showed off their courtyard for diners to enjoy a socially distant dining experience.

5. Continue promoting takeaway and delivery.

Some diners might be hesitant to dine out, especially when they are still working from home or worried about the health situation in general. Even when dine-in services resume, continue promoting takeaway and delivery as they remain important revenue streams. This is especially important for markets who are still faced with restrictions such as party size limitations and curfews. You can even offer dine-in incentives for takeaway and delivery customers when they eventually return to your restaurant.

Even though Oetara Coffee in Jakarta reopened, they continued promoting delivery and takeaway services.

Jigger & Pony in Singapore continued engaging with diners who preferred to stay at home.

Watch our Restaurant Restart Video Series to journey with an owner, manager, and diner of a restaurant as they pivot to Phase 2.

Subscribe to Chope For Restaurants for tips, advice and more how-tos. 

Download COVID-19 Restaurant Reopening Playbook

Adibah Isa

A digital and print journalist turned content manager for brands that believe in the power of storytelling.


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