3 ideas to refresh your menu for spring

Spring has officially sprung! Check out these three tips to refresh your menu to reflect the new season. 

  1. Lighten it up! If your menu traditionally uses bold or dark colors, use the spring season as an opportunity to give it a face lift.
    • Lighten up colors by using a lighter tint or tone of your brand colors.
    • Clear all the clutter and optimize white space to give your menu a light and airy feel.
  2. Change the focus! Think about the foods and drinks your customers are looking for in the warmer months.
    • Switch the attention to lighter food options, such as salads instead of heavy soups.
    • Capitalize on the start of farmers markets and add fresh, seasonal ingredients to your menu.
    • Add more breakfast and brunch items due to spring and summer holidays, such as Mother’s and Father’s Day.
  3. Make it obvious! If you want to promote your lighter menu items, make it easier for your customers to find them.
    • Highlight new or important items by adding elements to draw the diner’s attention to it – put a box around it or highlight a featured image of the dish.
    • Place your best-selling items in the places that the diner’s eye goes to first, usually in the upper-right hand corner of the menu.

Need some help with a menu refresh? Shop our custom design tools and we’ll get your menu ready for the warmer months ahead. Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and let us know how you plan to refresh your menu for spring!

Event success with these 4 elements!

 A grand opening event is a great way to celebrate and engage your community, including local media and influencers.  We’ve been to a few parties and here are four of our favorite tricks for event success!

Hashtag it! By building a specific hashtag for your event, you will build engagement with the attendees and bring the conversation together. It also will allow people to find photos from the event, as well as information.  Tip: choose a # that is simple, memorable and related to the event. Most importantly, make it something that nobody has used before (or has been minimally used)! #Noodlemeisopen, #partayatsammys, #eatatluc

Cheeeese! We live in a photo-first society! That means lots and lots of photo and/or selfie taking. Make it easy for your guests to remember your event by having a Polaroid on hand!

Drinks on me! Coasters are an inexpensive way to get your restaurant logo and messaging out there. You can create an entire marketing program around them that will make your guests take pictures and share them on social media to start a conversation. They are also a fantastic opportunity to further promote your custom event hashtag and/or use them as an incentive to return to your restaurant with a coupon or advertisement for happy hour.

Can I get a signature!? Create a custom signature cocktail for your event! It’s another opportunity to set yourself apart and create a conversation topic – “are you a sunshine seeker or cold & bold?”

Follow these four key ingredients, your event is sure to be a hit! Don’t forget to sign up for your Free 7 Tips to Get PR for your event and make your restaurant a success! Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and let us know how you plan to make your event special!

6 National Websites for Restaurants to Know

Restaurants’ customers are local, but what the people in your community read goes far beyond local media. Placement in a top national lifestyle website can validate your concept and bring locals and tourists in.  Here are five lifestyle websites that you should know – they focus on food and have opportunities for restaurant coverage, recipe submissions and chef features. Content from these websites is sometimes syndicated on major news aggregators like MSN.com providing the potential to reach tens of millions!      Daily Meal:    The  Daily Meal  covers all things food, so dive in and find your place in their content! Editors canvass the world to bring readers the best food and drink experiences at all levels, around the table, at home or on the road. The Daily Meal delivers dining news and trends, ways to help home cooks succeed in the kitchen, while highlighting the unifying aspects of food and drink and celebrating the people who create them (namely chefs!).   What to pitch:     Seasonal recipes! We’ve had great success placing recipes for clients around major food holidays like the Super Bowl and National Salad Month.     Your restaurant as part of a new dining trend, or along with notable local acclaim to consider for features, restaurant round ups, and more.  Have a particularly unique point of view and respected position in the food world? Consider nominating yourself to be on the  Daily Meal Food Council .   Pure Wow:   PureWow  is dedicated to finding ways to make life more interesting, beautiful and manageable. Coverage includes the breadth of women's lifestyle: fashion, beauty, home, arts and culture, money, tech, food and travel.    What to pitch:   New restaurants and the “best (your food category here)” if you live in one of their featured cities (NYC, Dallas, SF, Hamptons, LA, Chicago).  The best (your food category here) in every state.  Seasonal recipes and how-tos. Here’s a tip: reach out and ask what recipe roundups they are working on so that you can pitch the perfect recipe for inclusion.   The following national websites also have strong local food coverage in select metropolitan areas. Find your local writer to pitch and invite to your events.      Spoon University:     Food coverage by college students for college students, this site is great if you have a location near one of the  local chapters  and appeal to college students (fast-casual, bars, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.).    Thrillist:    Thrillist    is a leading men’s digital lifestyle brand, providing all that's new, unknown or under-appreciated in food, drink, entertainment, nightlife, gadgets, and more.  Think edgy and pitch opening news, restaurant reviews and original best-of food ideas to your city contacts.    Zagat:     This go-to source is stepping up its online game with lots of local content.  Get on the contact list for the writer in your city so you can receive their emails about stories they’re working on.  Invite them to your events and send them your news, seasonal menus and ideas, too.    Red Tricycle:   Red Tricycle is one of the most followed parenting sites and features regular food coverage, including roundups of the best Mac n Cheese for kids or smoothie bars.  Consider pitching if: you have a kids menu; are especially kid-friendly; have a space to rent for parties; or make for a special moms night out or date night.  Have questions? Reach out at  hello@takoutpr.com .  And don’t forget to sign up for your free 7 tips to get PR  here  and connect with us on  Facebook ,  Twitter  and  Instagram .      

Restaurants’ customers are local, but what the people in your community read goes far beyond local media. Placement in a top national lifestyle website can validate your concept and bring locals and tourists in.  Here are five lifestyle websites that you should know – they focus on food and have opportunities for restaurant coverage, recipe submissions and chef features. Content from these websites is sometimes syndicated on major news aggregators like MSN.com providing the potential to reach tens of millions!

 Daily Meal: The Daily Meal covers all things food, so dive in and find your place in their content! Editors canvass the world to bring readers the best food and drink experiences at all levels, around the table, at home or on the road. The Daily Meal delivers dining news and trends, ways to help home cooks succeed in the kitchen, while highlighting the unifying aspects of food and drink and celebrating the people who create them (namely chefs!).

What to pitch:
Seasonal recipes! We’ve had great success placing recipes for clients around major food holidays like the Super Bowl and National Salad Month.

Your restaurant as part of a new dining trend, or along with notable local acclaim to consider for features, restaurant round ups, and more.

Have a particularly unique point of view and respected position in the food world? Consider nominating yourself to be on the Daily Meal Food Council.

Pure Wow: PureWow is dedicated to finding ways to make life more interesting, beautiful and manageable. Coverage includes the breadth of women's lifestyle: fashion, beauty, home, arts and culture, money, tech, food and travel. 

What to pitch:
New restaurants and the “best (your food category here)” if you live in one of their featured cities (NYC, Dallas, SF, Hamptons, LA, Chicago). The best (your food category here) in every state. Seasonal recipes and how-tos. Here’s a tip: reach out and ask what recipe roundups they are working on so that you can pitch the perfect recipe for inclusion.

The following national websites also have strong local food coverage in select metropolitan areas. Find your local writer to pitch and invite to your events.

Spoon University: Food coverage by college students for college students, this site is great if you have a location near one of the local chapters and appeal to college students (fast-casual, bars, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.).

Thrillist: Thrillist is a leading men’s digital lifestyle brand, providing all that's new, unknown or under-appreciated in food, drink, entertainment, nightlife, gadgets, and more.  Think edgy and pitch opening news, restaurant reviews and original best-of food ideas to your city contacts.

Zagat: This go-to source is stepping up its online game with lots of local content.  Get on the contact list for the writer in your city so you can receive their emails about stories they’re working on.  Invite them to your events and send them your news, seasonal menus and ideas, too.

Red Tricycle: Red Tricycle is one of the most followed parenting sites and features regular food coverage, including roundups of the best Mac n Cheese for kids or smoothie bars.  Consider pitching if: you have a kids menu; are especially kid-friendly; have a space to rent for parties; or make for a special moms night out or date night.

Have questions? Reach out at hello@takoutpr.com.  And don’t forget to sign up for your free 7 tips to get PR here and connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. 

 

Best Websites for Free Stock Photos

Looking for a photo to accompany your Facebook post? While using your own photography is ideal, there are times when you just don’t have the right photo or no photo at all.  In these instances, having access to good stock photography is very helpful. 

Here are a few of our favorite free resources for beautiful stock photos.    

Pexels is our go-to for simple and clean food photos and lifestyle shots. Check in each week for over 70 new images curated from smaller stock photo sites and professional photographers. 

Looking for close-up shots, photos of a specific food, or cartoon images? Try Pixabay.

For a huge resource of great stock images, check out Free Images.  They have over 2 million images, so you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for. 

Many stock photos err on the side of a being overly staged. For beautiful, authentic images, we love Albumarium.

Questions or comments? Shoot us a note at hello@takeoutpr.com. And for more tips, connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Best Restaurant Photography

Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with one of Seattle’s best food photographers, Sarah Flotard, to get her insight on how to take great food and restaurant photography. 

Prior to becoming a photographer, Sarah worked as a cook and then marketing director for James Beard award-winning chef Tom Douglas.  Her photography reflects this knowledge, bringing an intimate understanding of the mechanics of a restaurant to showcase the frenetic, creative and collaborative atmosphere of her clients’ work and environment.

Sarah’s clients include Coors, Tom Douglas Restaurants, Huxley Wallace Collective, Herban Feast, All Recipes, and Caffe Vita.  Her work has been published in more than 100 outlets, such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, USA Today, Bon Appetit, Esquire, The Daily Meal and many others. 

sarah.jpg

How do you take great food photos?
A good DSLR camera, a couple of fixed lenses, a tripod just a little heavier than you want to carry and lots of lovely, natural light to bounce around your set.  And sexy food!

How can restaurants help their photographers get these great shots?
It's important to resist trying to kill too many birds with one stone and to allow time for a proper shoot.  This might mean bringing kitchen staff in off-hours to cook items when the restaurant is closed.  Trying to cram a hefty shot list in just before service will absolutely show in the final images.

What are the three tips you’d give to a restaurant who wants to snap a few of their own photos for social media?

1.      Shoot your dishes in natural light!

2.      Find a photo editing app you like and always give your photo a little post-production love.

3.      Do not over-filter. 

How much should a restaurant expect to pay a photographer for a food shoot?
It truly runs the gamut, but my rule of thumb is always "Good, fast and cheap.  Pick two."

How do your customers find you?
Customers generally find me via word of mouth or through social media.

 

 Thank you Sarah for your valuable insight!  For more information, check out Sarah online and on Instagram!

Questions or comments? Shoot us a note at hello@takeoutpr.com. And for more tips, connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Promoting a Summer Event

You’ve decided to host a summer restaurant event – congratulations! So, how do you spread the word? Here are a few simple steps for successful promotion.

Finalize the details

Once you’ve decided to host an event, make sure you have your ducks in a row before you begin promoting it. The last thing you want is reporters (or guests!) asking questions you don’t have the answers to.

Here are the details you’ll need to establish:

1.       The “who, what, where, when, why, and how”

2.       Pricing (if applicable)

3.       How people should make reservations (also, if applicable)

4.       A few lines of content that will get people excited about the event. This will be your opening lines for calendar listings, a media pitch, and any other promotion.

5.       Photos! Make sure you have 3-4 high quality photos related to the event. These can be images of your restaurant, relevant past events you’ve hosted or food images.

Put it on the calendar

The easiest way to spread the word online is through promotion on local event calendars. Most newspapers, magazines, TV stations and city websites have online event calendars where you can submit your event for free. A quick Google search in your city for “food events” and “event calendars” can add a few more options to your list. Make sure the content for your calendar listing is catchy and concise, use a photo if possible, and include a way for readers to contact you – either a phone number, email address, or website link.

Get on media’s radar

Letting local food media know about your event is a key promotional step. Look through the list of food writers on your media list and do a quick search to see what they are writing about. Many of them will cover local food events or even do roundups of upcoming food events. Your pitch should be simple, and easily lay out the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” for the recipient. Also, make sure to extend an event invite to the reporter!

Alert your neighborhood

Chances are, a large percentage of your customers live nearby. Reaching out to media in your neighborhood is a great promotional tactic. Check online for neighborhood blogs, Facebook groups, or associations that you can share the news with.

Be your own media

Remember to promote your summer event through your own media channels! Does your restaurant have an online news section, blog or e-newsletter? If so, write up a quick post about the upcoming event. You can also promote the event in your restaurant through window signs, an invitation on the table, or other materials. Lastly, help ensure your already loyal customers hear about the event by posting about it on social media several times. You can also create a Facebook event, allowing people to click “RSVP” straight from their phone or computer.  

 

Want to learn more about promoting your restaurant’s summer event? Sign up to get our 7 tips for free PR!

And for more advice on restaurant events and PR, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

The Importance of Great Menu Design

Creating a memorable brand is a key part of any restaurant’s success. And it should be cohesively conveyed throughout the food, interior design, logo, website and the menus.

A restaurant’s menu is so important! The right menu acts as an advertising tool, conveying the kind of experience your clientele can expect to have. Is your restaurant upscale, down-home or comfortable? Your menu should reflect that! The goal behind great menu design is to make diners excited to be there and to be memorable enough that they want to come back and recommend the restaurant to friends and family.

So, before designing your next menu, consider the following:

Research your competitors: what do their menus look like and how could yours be different or better; further – what can you offer that your competitors can’t?

  • Consider your restaurant’s location and how it relates to your neighborhood; for example: 
    •  How does pricing match up with other restaurants in the area?
    • Does your menu offer enough variety? Or is it similar to others in the neighborhood?
  • What is the #1 thing you want customers to remember from your menu?

Once you have done the research, start thinking about the design. Again, the menu should reflect your restaurant’s personality and tone. Are you classy and sophisticated? Fun and carefree? Relaxed and casual? A clean and simple menu can convey an elevated, refined experience. A colorful and loud menu can express a fun, lighthearted atmosphere.

Now, consider these quick tips to make your menu great:

  • Arrange items in order of the diner’s experience: appetizers first, then salads, etc.
  • Don’t make the print too small because your menu should be easy to read and understand
  • Highlight new or important items by adding elements to catch the diner’s attention, like a box around a special or a featured image of the dish
  • Place your best-selling or most expensive items in the places that your customer’s eye goes to first, which is usually the upper-right hand corner of a menu

If you are looking for additional help designing your menu to ensure it best reflects your restaurant, check out our Custom Menu Design service to see how we can take your menu to the next level!

Key Message Mad Libs

What are key messages? They’re your golden ticket to nailing any media interview!

Key messages highlight your restaurant’s unique differentiators and benefits, and you’ll want to lean on them whenever you’re talking with a media person to obtain press. We talk extensively about them in our Speaker Training Guide.

Today, we wanted to have a little fun AND help you draft up a few key messages. Remember those mad lib books you probably did on long car rides as a kid? Well, today we’re going to do the same thing for whatever special occasion you’re promoting to the media. Get your pens out…

key message mad libs (2).png