When the months begin to heat up, there is no better time to introduce summer menu promotions. Numerous creative options for summer marketing programs exist to get staff and customers excited.

Directions:

1. Make use of your patio. If your restaurant has a patio it is time to make use of the tables and chairs that have been idle during the cold winter months. Breathing new life into your patio will give your restaurant a brighter and more inviting feel to draw people into your restaurant.

Here are some ways to get your patio in tune:

• Dust off tables and chairs. Replace seat cushions and buy new umbrellas. If you have wood tables in your outdoor area, a new stain can make all the difference.

• If your patio is looking drab and sparse, outdoor plants suited for the weather in your area help uplift the outdoor area. Smaller potted plants or flowers make it feel like summer.

• At night, lighting the patio with tiki torches or small outdoor lights gives the restaurant a romantic feel and is a great way to get people to sit outside.

• For hot days, use misters around the perimeter to cool down the outdoor area.

2. Summertime promotions. There are wonderful opportunities for outdoor promotions.

Here are some ideas:

• Throw a summer event with games and activities for the whole community to enjoy. Use your creativity. Provide games that relate to the summer months such as musical chairs using ice blocks or a water balloon toss. Pass out prizes for the winners such a complimentary meal cards.

• Create an outdoor fundraiser to support a local charity. Use the parking lot in front of your restaurant for the event. Offer face painting and chalk drawing for the kids. Offer free food and raffle prizes.

• Support an outdoor run or walk for a cause and have the event start and end at your restaurant.

• Summer Olympics create an opportunity this year for a promotion! Create your own Olympic party and offer a way to get your guests excited to compete! A server tray relay? Fastest dishwasher? Create your own competitions!

• Sponsor an outdoor event in your community. Set up a booth at the event and sell food and donate a portion of sales to charity.

3. Spice up your menu items and offer summertime specials. Refreshing blended concoctions that use warm weather fruits such as berries, melons, mangos, pineapple and coconut will be a guaranteed hit. Offer these drinks alcoholic or non-alcoholic and serve them in tall frosted glasses with paper umbrellas and bright straws. Take advantage of the hot weather to promote lighter foods such as fresh salads and healthy menu options, and fish. For kids, use colored ice cubes in soda and juice.

4. Brighten everything in your restaurant from table settings and menus to staff uniforms. With a few simple touches employees and customers brighten up and sales perk up!