We are celebrating our 25th anniversary. I need some advice on throwing a party for patrons, family, etc.
– Lisa Wasson, Manager, Benjamin’s, Galena, IL
Happy anniversary! This milestone is something to celebrate, to be sure. It is also an opportunity to remind your guests (and prospective guests) that you must be doing what you do very well to still be in business, and they should make your operation a regular part of their dining.
You should look at your anniversary not just as a one-off party, but as a grand promotion opportunity that can not only thank your guests, employees, suppliers and the community for their support in helping you make it to 25, but also bring in some revenue and generate buzz to help you make it to 50.
I have been to some restaurant anniversary celebrations that unfortunately miss the message. They give away some food and drink, chalk it up to promotion, and move on. While that approach may be better than nothing, some operations benefit from being more strategic. Try:
- Selling a peek behind the curtain. Since the rise of the celebrity chef, regular guests and “foodies” may love the opportunity to hobnob with your staff over a special meal—and may pay for the privilege.
- Stretching it out. Try a month-long promotion on the theme of 25—$25 prix fixe, 25 wings, 25-cent draft with a food purchase, etc. to drive your message home.
- Remembering the whole system. In addition to your guests, be sure to honor the many supportive people who helped you reach this milestone—vendors, bankers, consultants, journalists, employees and so on—so that you can build good will for many years to come. Think about a series of smaller parties to recognize these constituencies rather than one big blowout.
Keep it up. You’re obviously running a good operation to enjoy continued success. Take advantage of promotions that you already have in the works and tie them to your anniversary. Congrats!