Skip navigation

Finding your restaurant customers

• See more Back Talkin'

In the December issue, editor Michael Sanson wondered why restaurants are full some days and completely empty on other days. Is there a method to the madness of why customers show up one day and not another (taking out the variables of bad weather and traditionally slow Mondays and Tuesdays)? He asked readers for their thoughts on that subject and if they had any sure-fire promotions to fill seats. Here are excerpts from some responses.

Forecasting customer counts on a daily basis was pretty predictable, but it all changed in 2008. Photo: Media Bakery/Veer

As a former restaurant adviser/consultant some obvious reasons include the [bad] economy and that many customers are broke after the weekend. Others are because restaurants aren’t offering the types of food and service customers want.

As for how to fill seats, it’s about promotions, promotions, promotions. And you have to make sure customers knows about them. Owners and managers should get to know their customers and personally invite them to come in on a slow day. Once there in, offer them something.
Mihir Shah
Dishoom Foods

I’m an old timer (45 years in the business) and the unpredictable nature of customer visits hasn’t been going on forever. This business is usually pretty predictable as far as forecasting customer counts on a daily basis, but it all changed in 2008. There is no rhyme or reason to it any more. Don’t have a clue as to why.

Steve Freidkin
Phoenix, AZ

I believe there are a few reasons why this is happening:

1. There are simply more restaurants and their numbers are growing each day.

2. Social media has made it easier for customers to explore their options.

3. The economy is bad and customers are cautious about spending.

Alex Ramirez
Fiesta Ole Mexican Restaurant
Allentown, PA

In the November issue, Sanson wrote about how some restaurants are using classic menu names on their menus, but using recipes that are not classic. Here’s a response.  

My family has sold pit-cooked hickory barbecue for more than 57 years. I’ve increasingly noticed how many restaurants call smoked pork “barbecue.” According to the true definition of barbecue, it has to be cooked over a live fire or hot coals. Therefore a smoker or an indirect system is not barbecue.

Smoked pork, pulled pork sandwich, McRib, are all considered by some to be traditional barbecue. However, real pit-cooked, direct-fire barbecue is a very specialized and laborious task. Smoked pork will never equal real barbecue taste, at least in my world. Pit-masters take great pride in tending the fire and practicing the art of barbecue. As opposed to setting a temperature knob on the smoker and going home to sleep while the meat is being smoked. If a restaurant smokes pork, call it “smoked.” Or, as we say in Alabama, ‘that ain’t barbecue.”

Van Sykes
Pit Master
Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.