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Marketing RECIPE: Ladies’ Luncheons

Ingredients Needed:

•    Printed flyers to advertise

•    A staff member (or a few) to make calls to local groups

•    A group of staff to deliver flyers, sample menus, and food to local groups

•    Four seasonal sample menus (work with your chef on this)

•    Extra seasonal decorations (for each season), if needed

•    Enough staff to ensure your guests are taken care of the day of the luncheon

•    Bags with your logo on them

•    Cookies/brownies to pack in bags and pass out as your guests are leaving

Directions:

1.        Create a flyer that advertises your restaurant’s ability to host large groups. This flyer should note your restaurant’s capacity for such an event—how many people can you accommodate, while still seating them in one large group? Do you have a banquet room or private dining room? Include a sample menu and pricing on your flyer.

2.        Call local groups to let them know that you host group luncheons. Ask if they have a specific date coming up that they need meeting space for, and/or if they would like you to send them more information about your restaurant. 

3.        Bring flyers and samples of your restaurant’s food to local groups. This is a good way to advertise your brand to groups who may not have heard of your restaurant, or who don’t know that you host group events. And, no one says “no” to food! Once they taste your food, they are more likely to book an event with you. 

4.        Create 4 different sample menus, one for each season (winter, spring, summer, fall), so that potential clients/guests can see what a possible luncheon looks like at your restaurant any time of the year. Have these on hand for guests to review, and make sure that these menus highlight some of your signature regular menu items.

5.        Once you have a group of ladies booked for a luncheon at your restaurant, here are some of what you might need to prepare:

•    Obtain a head count from the group leader who scheduled the event with you. It is usually a good idea to ask for this at least a day in advance, so you know how much food you will need. Ask if there are any vegetarians or allergies in the group.

•    Choose which waiters and waitresses will specifically be taking care of the group. 

•    Set up tables and chairs before the guests arrive—make sure you have enough for all of the guests you are expecting. It is always a good idea to have an extra table and a few extra chairs on hand!

Menu Ideas:

1.    For winter luncheons, create menus that include “comfort foods.” Guests will love coming into your warm restaurant to enjoy the fresh tomato-basil soup, or a hearty minestrone. 

2.    For spring luncheons, utilize the season’s fresh produce. If you have specialty salads on your regular menu, create a sampler and serve in salad-bar form. Put together a calzone with some of your guests’ favorite ingredients of the season—fresh spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, and/or rosemary are all possible options.  

3.    For summer luncheons, tea sandwiches can be a refreshing treat—use crisp cucumbers or a light chicken or tuna salad. Create a few special types of lemonade to serve as drinks—strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry are all popular varieties. Add lemon-flavored sparkling soda to make it different and interesting!

4.    For fall luncheons, use pumpkin or squash—there are many options for these ingredients, including soup, ravioli, roasted vegetables, pie, and a variety of baked goods, from bread to muffins. 

5.    For dessert, create a bunch of “mini” options of the desserts on your regular menu—mini cupcakes, pies, and tarts, as well as cookies and brownies are all good possibilities. Throughout spring and summer, it is also a good idea to pair dessert with fresh fruit that is available. 

6.    Vegetarian options: make sure you have options available to accommodate vegetarians, such as salad and/or pasta.

Sample Menu:

Salad Bar:

•    Summer salad—fresh romaine lettuce tossed with sliced strawberries, mandarin orange sections, and pecans, topped with a tangy vinaigrette.

•    Spinach salad—fresh spinach leaves with blue cheese and bacon crumbles, chopped red onion, topped with hard-boiled eggs and fresh blue cheese dressing. 

•    Fruit salad—freshly cut strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, banana, and pineapple.

•    Caesar salad—fresh romaine with grated parmesan cheese, sourdough croutons, and Caesar dressing.

Tea Sandwiches:

•    Cucumber & Cream Cheese

•    Chicken Salad

•    Sundried Tomato & Basil Spread

•    Egg Salad

•    Bacon and Zucchini Calzones—making calzones out of small pizza dough and folding inside several ingredients and served as small sandwiches are great for ladies luncheons.

Dessert:

•    Mini cupcakes—Vanilla, Chocolate, Raspberry Lemonade, Carrot

Beverages:

•    Iced tea

•    Arnold Palmer (iced tea and lemonade)

•    Sparkling lemonade, either plain or flavored
(strawberry, raspberry, blueberry)

•    Variety of soft drinks

Decoration:

Specific colors come to mind when one thinks of each season. When we think of fall, we think red, orange and yellow. For each season, when hosting a large group for a luncheon, add a little bit of relevant color to the tables. For example, in the fall, this can be done by using red placemats or orange napkins. You can also incorporate leaves and/or pumpkins for fall luncheons—have a miniature pumpkin as a “place card” at each person’s seat. 

A Treat for Your Group of Guests:

Pass out bags (with your restaurant’s logo on them) of freshly baked cookies or brownies to your group of guests as they leave. They will remember this nice touch, and will have a bag of baked goods to share with whomever they see later that day—good PR for your restaurant!

Tips:

1.    Women are great at spreading word of mouth, and will talk to their friends about the event they attended at your restaurant! Make sure it is a memorable experience that they will brag to their friends about. Everyone will want to host a luncheon with you!

2.    Decoration is a nice addition. If some of the guests in the group frequent your restaurant often, they will think it’s nice that you took the time to decorate specifically for their event. Sticking with the colors and symbols of each season is an easy way to decorate!  A nice touch is to use fresh flowers in vases.

3.    Have some of your best servers in charge of taking care of the large group—you want to make sure everything runs smoothly and that your guests are tended to in a timely fashion. 

4.    Remember to promote and advertise that you host large groups for luncheons! One of the best ways to do this is to take flyers and menus, along with samples of your food to groups in the area.

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