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Small Business RevolutionBlog

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October 11, 2017

Utilizing marketing to boost your restaurant business

The restaurant business is very cyclical. The time of the year, special occasions and the weather will all factor into if the business is busy on any given day.

Annabella’s Restaurant in Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania has a different challenge: how do you fill the seats when the local theatre isn’t in season.

In season two of the Small Business Revolution – Main Street, chef and owner Bobby Angelaccio and his wife, Alison are featured. Annabella’s is their baby, an Italian Restaurant beloved by locals and guests for its authentic cuisine. Across the street from Annabella’s is the Bristol Riverside Theatre, a regional theatre that hosts several Broadway-style shows each year.

When the theatre is in production, Annabella’s is full before each show. Guests want to arrive early, have a great meal and head over to the theatre. Working together, the theatre promotes local restaurants like Annabella’s, helping boost the overall economy. Yet as good as his food is, Bobby is often faced with trying to fill seats when the theatre is not in production.

Working with Deluxe, Bobby and Alison learned that they needed to revamp their menu and their website, showing pictures of the actual food cooked in Annabella’s. They also needed to look to “incentivize” their audience when the theatre is not in season. This was a hard-sell for Bobby.

As an old-school chef, Bobby doesn’t like to give anything away. As he says, “why should I give someone something to come and eat my food.”

During the episode, Bobby and Alison meet with Amanda Brinkman of Deluxe and Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec. Together they want to make Annabella’s the destination it should be, right along with the Theatre. They suggest using an email list to invite customers into the restaurant during traditionally slower periods with a 10 percent off discount.

As Alison pointed out, she’s on board with anything that can help them get people in their seats. Herjavec explains that it isn’t giving anything away since no one is in that chair if they don’t. It is better to make $25 on a customer than to hold out and never get the $35 if they don’t show up.

This can be a hard sell for many small business owners. They believe in their service and their product and for Bobby Angelaccio, he believes deeply in his food. Yet a small incentive can help drive traffic and create even more loyal customers to fill seats on days when the restaurant might struggle. Consistency is the name of the game.

In the end, Chef Bobby took the advice provided by Deluxe. As he says in the episode, he has been doing things a certain way for all these years, it is time to try something new. That can be the biggest battle with any small business owner. Becoming static can hurt how you move forward. Bobby opened his mind to new ideas and now his restaurant is ready to thrive at all times.

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