21 Restaurant Marketing Tips to Drive Revenue During COVID-19

This period has been incredibly challenging for so many, and we want to support you in every way possible. Here are some ideas to help you engage with customers online, boost awareness around your takeout and delivery offerings, and keep your business going strong during this unprecedented time.

The Basics

1. Over-Communicate. Tell your customers that you’re open for takeout and delivery on social media, over email, and on your website (anywhere customers might look!). Share your hours, open locations, special offerings and deals, delivery platforms, safety measures, and how every order is helping you keep your business running (from paying employees, to keeping the lights on). Take a look at Gott’s Roadside for some great examples of communications around COVID-19. And check out these videos and resources from Restaurant Playbooks for tips on offering safe takeout and delivery service and communicating food safety to your customers.  

2. Share Your New Menu. Show your customers what you have available for delivery and pick-up, and appeal to their cravings (everyone gets sick of cooking pasta at home after a while!). Check out this post from Bareburger for an example.

3. Put a Sign on your Door. Located in an area with some foot traffic? When customers leave their homes for some much needed fresh air, they might walk by your restaurant and peek inside. Put a sign on your door to let them know you’re open for delivery and pick-up, and call out the delivery apps you’re partnered with so people know where to look for you. If you can, post your latest menu on the door as well.

4. Promote Gift Cards. Your customers love you, and they’re looking for ways to support their favorite restaurants. Encourage them to buy gift cards to use themselves, to donate to delivery workers and local hospitals, or to save for a future holiday. Here’s a great example of a website devoted entirely to supporting local restaurants in the California Bay Area through gift cards.

5. Check in with your Delivery Partners to see if they are already offering support and promos. Some delivery platforms (DoorDash, for example) are already offering free delivery. You can opt in and promote this perk on your website and social media channels. Some also have a “first time free” program, which allows customers to try your restaurant with free delivery.

Ways to Add to Your Menu

6. Give the People What They Want. Research the most searched for dishes in your area to make sure you’re cooking all the dishes that your customers are craving. Check out the Grub Hub “Year in Food” Report to see what’s popular in your area. In times like these, comfort food is king.


7. Offer Meal-Kits and Family Meals. Have some menu favorites that your customers can’t get enough of? Offer them in larger orders to limit the number of times customers need to leave their homes and give them plenty of food to last the week. Hopdoddy recently launched a Quarantined Together Meal Kit, and it looks amazing.


8. Double as a general store. Grocery store shelves are dwindling, and customers are looking for staple items to cook at home. Sell essentials like olive oil, spices, sauces and even Impossible Burger (see next idea!) to help your customers stock up. And as of last week, you can even sell your Impossible Burger inventory directly to consumers to cook at home. Here’s a great example from Prairie in San Francisco.

9. Sell Impossible™ Burger directly to consumers to cook at home. Stock your new general store with Impossible Burger. On March 26, the US Food and Drug Administration issued temporary guidance to allow you to more easily sell your food inventory directly to consumers during the COVID-19 outbreak. We’re temporarily lifting our restrictions on selling foodservice products to consumers so you can take advantage of this change. That means you can sell Impossible Burger 5 lb bricks, 1/4 lb patties, and 1/3 lb patties directly to your guests – just print out and give them a copy of this PDF when you sell the product. The price is up to you.

10. Organize a CSA with your Suppliers. Work with your suppliers to put together CSA boxes of produce and other essentials so that customers can sign up for weekly deliveries of perishable items.

11. Add Beer and Wine to your To-Go Menu. Sometimes a burger just doesn’t taste the same without a beer. Offer some of your drink menu favorites for an even better to-go selection. Yummy example from Pi Co Pizza here.

Social Media Initiatives

12. Take Audiences Behind-the-Scenes by Going Live on Instagram. You’re the expert. Connect with your customers by showing them how the magic happens behind the scenes, and highlighting the BOH employees that are working hard to facilitate takeout orders. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to catch our weekly live cooking shows! And check out East Village Pizza for more inspiration. 

13. Feature your Customers on Social Media. Are your customers posting about their takeout and delivery orders from your restaurant? Build community and increase business by reposting some of what they share on your own channels. Here’s an example from Crossroads Kitchen. Then ask your social media audience what they want to see via tweets and Instagram Story polls so that you can proactively create the recipes they’re hungry for.

14. Host a Social Media Sweepstakes. Build community and encourage more orders by offering prizes or meals to customers who tag you in their posts or stories. Great example here from Fatburger.

15. Share Recipes for Favorite Menu Items. Even if you’ve decided to close your kitchen entirely, you can still build awareness, goodwill and community by sharing a favorite recipe on social media. That will keep your customers thinking of you, and bring them rushing back when you reopen your doors. Check out this example from Saxon + Parole in NYC.

Relevant Social Media Hashtags

  • #SaveRestaurants: Leverage this hashtag in Instagram Stories to appear in their highlight reel.

  • #OpenforDelivery: DoorDash’s campaign hashtag helps encourage local restaurant support by promoting delivery.

  • #DoYourPartChallenge: Celebrities are nominating others to participate in a #DoYourPartChallenge and donate meals. 

  • #SupportSmallBusiness: Unite with other small businesses, and help customers find you.

Delivery Add-Ons

16. Throw in a Thank You Card. Show your customers how grateful you are for their support with a simple thank you card in their takeout or delivery bag.

17. Include Coloring Book Pages. If you have any in stock that you typically use for dine-in customers, throw a few into delivery and takeout orders. A lot of kids are out of school, and their parents are eager to find new activities to fill the day. And who knows, some of your adult patrons might even try them! 

Contribute to those in need

18. Provide meals for healthcare workers. Consider supporting your community by soliciting donations and providing meals to healthcare workers and others on the front lines of fighting this virus. Great example here from MIXT in San Francisco. Check out World Central Kitchen or your favorite local organization to get involved.

19. Deliver extra inventory to food banks. If you have excess inventory that is at risk of expiring or can’t be used with your shifting business model, donate it to local food banks, which are experiencing unprecedented demand as unemployment rates grow. Some cities have regional databases of local food banks, like this one for Los Angeles. And Feeding America has a nationwide network of food banks.

Other Ideas

20. Consider Co-Branded Partnerships. Are there other local restaurants that you can partner up with to incentivize orders? Co-branded partnerships can help to extend reach by cross-pollinating content on multiple channels simultaneously. And they build a sense of community around local favorites.

21. Create Zoom Backgrounds of your Restaurant. Have customers who are working from home? Give them Zoom image backgrounds featuring your FOH to download and use during their conference calls (and not just during lunch!). Check out these examples from Dennys.

We hope these tips provide helpful inspiration to you and your team. We also put together a collection of downloadable social media images that you can use on your channels to let customers know you’re available for delivery and takeout.



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