A guide to help your restaurant embrace the holiday spirit

Photo Courtsey: Jed Villejo, unsplash

It’s an undeniable fact that festivals are a huge part of the Indian culture. Whether it’s the jolly atmosphere of Christmas, the traditional celebration of Onam, or the bright Diwali lights that illuminate homes, each and every individual in the country partakes in at least one of the festivities that come in quick succession throughout the year.

Festivals are the perfect opportunity to unite and celebrate the love shared between friends and family. It’s the time to let bygones be bygones, and start fresh, it’s the time to splurge a little, and most importantly, it’s the time for food to fill tables. It’s therefore not surprisingly a great time for restaurants to spruce up their marketing by adding a flair of the holiday cheer to their strategies.

It’s no secret that the festive period is hugely profitable for any business, and restaurants are no exception as consumers begin spending a large part of their budget on food and beverage. The most common way that most restaurants attempt to attract customers is by serving a special menu of festive food. But if every restaurant employs this technique, how does one stand apart from its contemporaries?

Photo Courtsey – Gor Davtyan, unsplash

Here’s your short guide to making the most for your restaurant while also keeping the holiday spirit alive:

  1. Don’t shirk on planning your strategy :

“Planning” doesn’t necessarily fit in with the festive period, because you tend to throw caution to the wind and bank on the fact that people will turn up regardless. But an effective plan will help your restaurant make efficient use of your budget, and ensure that your festive strategy is creative but still representative of your restaurant’s image. Moreover, the planning process becomes an exercise of teamwork if you bring all hands-on deck, letting your employees pitch their own ideas.

While the plan can be varied and unique depending on individual establishments, some aspects that can be covered include;

  • YOUR HOLIDAY MENU: If you want to have a success feast of festive food that makes customers roll in, it might be beneficial to pick and decide on the items at least a week or two in advance to debuting it for customers to try.
Photo Courtesy – Alexandra Gornago, unsplash

DÉCOR – No festival is complete without the right décor. So pick the right kind of fairy lights, Christmas trees or diyas. Aside from setting aside the budget for the decorations, consider hiring a professional decorator to spruce up your interiors as perfectly as you possibly can.

Photo Courtesy – Sid Balachandran, unsplash

OFFERS/DISCOUNTS – It’s not a festival if there aren’t special offers and incredible discounts on products and services that leave customers in awe. But it’s such a common occurrence during the holiday that you need to plan out how your restaurant will stand out.

  • BRINGING PEOPLE IN – No menu, décor or offer will bring customers in if they don’t know about. So decide on the best marketing and communication channels to advertise your plans. Whether online or offline mediums, narrow down on your course of action.
  • Make sure you get noticed :

In the age of technology where people make the decision of where to get their daily of caffeine through Google reviews, and finds new places to visit through the windows of their phones, an online presence is essential. Keep your website and social media networks up-to-date, attractive and SEO-friendly to ensure that when someone searches online for a good place to eat, they are immediately drawn to your restaurant (which through the best use of SEO should appear in the first few results) ; have a gallery of colourful images, invite people to the events you’re hosting, and the promotional offers that await them.

  • Run contests and campaign online :

Getting noticed is only the first step to bringing customers in to your restaurant. Customer engagement is key to actually getting them to book a table/call in and try out the festive roster that you prepare for them. An interesting way to get people to interact with your brand is through contests; for Diwali ask people to make a Rangoli out of playing cards or sweets, post the image and tag you on their social media. Similarly for Christmas, you can ask people to make an ornament with wrapping paper.

The contest not only gets the holiday buzz going, but rewarding an image (on categories of your own choice) with a discount voucher or something similarly which will definitely get people talking about your restaurant.

Another great way of catching the attention of potential customers is through promotional SMS or e-vites that ask people to come try your food before and during the festive period; make sure to send all promotional material at the right time. For example, an hour before lunch or dinner so that the name of your establishment stays fresh in the mind of a hungry food-seeker.

  • Try video marketing

Use the power of visual media to entice potential customers. Upload a video that promotes your chef’s special recipes or make a fun, “home-video” style video that highlights the values of your restaurant. If your budget allows it, go professional and create something that’s high quality and cinematic.

Be creative, do whatever you think suits your brand, and use social media to promote the video and make sure people watch it.

  • Don’t be afraid to surprise your customers

Following a tried-and-tested, planned out strategy that best suits your brand is sure to bring food lovers in. But don’t shy away from being unique or surprising customers with something that’s completely out of left-field!

Is your restaurant known for being classy and quiet? Introduce a karaoke bar during the festive period (and beyond if you enjoy it). Opt for food carts and trucks to bring the taste of your food to the front door of customers. Add a new, unexpected twist to a traditional festival dish and interact with customers both online and offline through a poll to see how different people make the same dish at home.

Photo Courtesy – Forja2, unsplash

The key to successfully and profitably incorporating the festive season into your restaurant business is to tap into the spirit of each individual festival and culture ; be authentic and smart with your strategies , but while you’re at it don’t forget to celebrate the food that brings people together.

The ultimate guide to starting a new restaurant

The growth in technology has brought significant changes in the restaurant industry as well and more people plan to set up their own restaurant. If you’ve wanted to start a restaurant for years, it’s the right time to open your own business. To help you have a successful restaurant or a café business, we have mentioned some of the tips on how to start a new restaurant.

Useful guide to start a new restaurant are mentioned below:

Have the right intentions: If you want to start your restaurant, then you must start it with good intentions.

Have a solid business plan in place: You can’t scratch a business plan just like it, rather you must have a detailed business plan that describes your business goal and plan of action while starting a new restaurant or a Café. You must have a sound business that can help you get growth and measure your progress.

Location: For a restaurant, location is everything. You must choose the location wisely, it must be easily accessible, and has the growth potential. Most importantly, choose a location that fits within your budget too.

Check your menu: Decide the kind of menu you want to have. You can also have a proposed menu where you can invite other people for honest feedback. Make sure that you did honest market research and visited other restaurants as well, to understand the most pricing and most preferred items of that particular area.

Appoint the required employees: You need to figure out how many employees you require. It is important to hire the right number of staff such as dishwasher, chef, manager and service team etc. as it will help in the smooth running of your business.

Secure funding and manage your cash flow: Ensure that have the minimum startup capital required. Having that much money which you need to get your restaurant off the ground is imperative. You must have sufficient money covering one-time costs like equipment cost, restaurant expenses (for a minimum of six months), and personal bills.

Get permits and licenses: To open a new restaurant, it is essential to get state and local permits and licenses. For this, you can get in touch with professionals like Gourmet Sage Hospitality Solutions who will provide the correct legal counsel and guidance related to work permits and licenses.

Keep marketing: Don’t depend solely on repeat customers, rather keep your marketing efforts up so that you can get enough revenue which can meet your cost. Have a strong online presence, as it helps a lot in earning revenues, take part in the local fair, or do some offline marketing as well.

Host an innovative opening: You must softly open your restaurant and invite all your known ones and relatives to be a part of your journey. You can arrange a soft opening for neighboring homes and businesses as this way you will get more business and, more people will get to know about your brand.

You can successfully run your restaurant in case you follow the above mention tips on how to start a new restaurant. In case you also plan to open a restaurant soon then the above-mentioned guide to start a new restaurant will help you a lot. Also, take expert opinion while starting up a new restaurant business, you can get in touch with Gourmet Sage Hospitality Solutions, which is a leading restaurant consultant and will guide you in the right direction when it’s about your restaurant.

Reasons why customers aren’t returning to your restaurant

When you first open a restaurant, your main goal tends to be attracting and bringing in customers. But as your business grows, it would do you good if your goal shifts to customer retention – working on increasing the frequency of customers who come back through your door. 

Returning customers are vital to your business, accounting for 1/3 of your revenue with a recent Harvard study indicating that if you’re able to increase repeat visits by 5 % then you have the potential of increasing profits by 25%. 

However, this is easier said than done. One study found that 70% of restaurant customers never make a return visit. In this post, we’ll explore some of the most common reasons why customers aren’t coming back and also look into what you can do to change that.

Most diners wait 30 minutes and if they aren’t served in that time don’t expect them to return (Image Cr: BusinessInsider) 

Bad or inconsistent customer service

This is one of the major reasons that customers leave your restaurant with no intention of returning. As customers are spoiled for choice in the restaurant sector, they don’t see any reason to tolerate poor customer service. 

Properly training your staff takes time, money and effort – it can be tempting to cut corners, but in the long run this could lead to inconsistent waiting times; the service is quick one day, and slow the next, some dishes on the menu come out faster than some others.

 The end result if you can’t deliver the right food, atmosphere and services within a reasonable amount of time (usually 60 minutes), then the customers are not likely to return. 

So hire more staff, train them to be efficient and polite, going above and beyond to provide a “comfort zone” to your customers. Great customer service is sure to create a bond between diners and the restaurant – and chances are they not only return, but will spread the good word about your establishment, thus bringing in more business. 

A poor review from a miffed customer can lead to loss of business ( Image Credit:pcdn.co)

Negative word of mouth/publicity

While good service leads to good publicity for your restaurant, the butterfly effect of poor service is negative word-of-mouth. When someone leaves your restaurant as an unhappy customer, you’re not only losing them, you are precariously poised to lose many more. 

When a customer is unhappy they talk – to friends and family, to complete strangers on social media- making sure that everyone knows of their bad experience. And the only way to combat this negative advertising is to address the situation and apologize, working to correct the failures as quickly as possible. 

If you as a restaurateur have an official social media account – Twitter, Instagram – this might come in handy to not only forge good relationships with customers, but also can be used to avert such crisis by politely addressing the miffed customer directly (either publicly or privately), accepting the mistake and assuring them and other potential customers that situation is being dealt with.

Customers pay for good quality food, and they won’t return if its not unto their standard ( Image Credit: Thrillist) 

Poor food quality and/or incomplete menu 

When someone pays for a service, they expect a certain level of quality.  Be it the service or the food on offer, if they deem it “not good enough”, they are not returning. If customers don’t find your menu appealing or find the food lacking flavour, again they won’t  be returning. 

Another reason a customer may not return is if they find that your restaurant doesn’t cater to/carry many healthy options – a lack of organic , gluten-free food or food marked with allergen information on your menu, may result in customers not returning out of concern for their health. 

Additionally, a lack of variety when it comes to the food on offer is another reason for reduced customer retention. Consistency is important for a restaurant-particularly in case of customer service, where consistently good service will win over customers – but this shouldn’t mean that you present a menu with no innovation.

Innovation doesn’t have to mean gourmet food; it can be as simple as offering specials. Whether daily, weekly or seasonal, adding a specials menu keeps things fresh giving your customers more incentive to return. 

If the dishes, floors or bathrooms are dirty, people aren’t coming back (Image Credit Daily Meal) 

Untidy restaurant

No one wants to eat surrounded by filth, grime or general untidiness – if your restaurant isn’t clean, then it affects the ambience, and the trust customers have about the quality about the food. 

Leaving their establishment untidy is one of the biggest mistakes a restaurant can make. Keep a close watch on issues like unsanitary bathrooms, dirty kitchens, tables covered in food and unappetising smells. 

Also remember that cleanliness extends beyond the restaurant to the people who work there, so ensure that all your employees look after their personal hygiene as well- presentable, well-dressed (or uniformed) employees make a better impression on customers than sloppy, unkempt employees.

Give customers a reason to return bringing their friends and family along with them (Image Credit : Hongkong Disneyland) 

No incentive for customers

Aside from good food and service, what sets your apart from other restaurants attracting customers to return? Have you given them a reason – different from your competitors- that makes returning worthwhile? 

Once you’ve earned your customer’s loyalty through your food, service and ambience, it’s time to nurture this loyalty. Show customers that you appreciate and value their loyalty – if not chances are they’ll grow tired and begin feeling like they are bringing more business for restaurant without getting anything in return. 

Think of adding a loyalty program – special offers, exclusive perks – that makes them feel valued. There are endless options when it comes to incentives : 

  • Offer a coupon that can be given out to first-time customers.
  • Give customers personal attention. If they have a problem with anything, try and solve it before they leave the restaurant.- not only does this nip the problem of negative publicity in the bud, but it makes customers feel seen and heard.
  • A best customer award is a good way to recognise the understanding, friendly customers who are a pleasure to serve. 
  • Offer a reward for a referral, encourage diners to bring friends, family, colleagues and reward them for it with discounts or offers. 

Incentives such as these are a win-win, as they not only help with customer retention but can also generate a positive buzz about your business, thus bringing in new diners. 

We now live in the age of the customer so if you don’t  take the time and effort to make your restaurant attractive to customers – catering to their different needs – then you won’t  be able to bring them back more than once. So treat them well, give them reasons to come back, and your business is sure to boom for many years to come. 

Modern Food Trends Here To Stay

From activated charcoal to unicorn frappuccinos, food trends are always going to be a roller-coaster ride. Based on reception to current trends, here is a list of ten things we predict will rule the Indian food landscape in the coming months:

1. Health first

Organic supermarkets replacing ice cream parlours, self-grown tomatoes from kitchen gardens and dieting fads overshadowing junk food have become the faces of today’s culinary scene. With more and more people making a conscious effort to eat healthier, the ‘flexitarian’ lifestyle of predominantly vegetable-based fare peppered with occasional lean meats is picking up steam.

2. Veganism on the rise

A not-insignificant section of the country has switched sides by shunning cheese fries and chicken nuggets altogether. The demand for dairy and meat substitutes like soy milk and tofu has given chefs the impetus to concoct more innovative animal-free recipes. The need of the hour has changed from throwing in a token vegan option for the herbivores to creating entire menus catering to their preferences.

3. Zero waste

As a natural extension of eco-friendly food habits gaining momentum, the call to minimise food waste has gained more voices. Resourceful chefs are figuring out ways to utilise every ingredient to its fullest—a practice known as ‘Root-to-Leaf cooking’. From carrot tops, beet greens and cauliflower stems, to all those miscellaneous non-vegetarian bits and pieces that get tossed out, nothing is off the-table anymore.

4. Cultural fusion

With globalisation reigning supreme, the interweaving of different cuisines has become quite the rage. Oriental flavours are layered with quintessentially desi spices, while exotic grains like chia and quinoa are making their way into Indian dishes. This radical development ensures that a virtually inexhaustible set of culinary permutations await not only enterprising chefs but also eager consumers.

5. Back to our roots

In the past, the rush to embrace intercontinental food had shunted many an indigenous recipe to the sidelines. However, today’s public is realising that regional dishes are veritable treasures—be it cuisine native to the Seven Sisters or dishes popular in the Southern parts of India. This epiphany has been accompanied by the desire to give local produce such as bajra, jowar, moringa and amaranath their long-denied spotlight.

6. Comfort with a twist

With the food and beverage industry as competitive as it is, chefs are constantly on the lookout for inspiration. In recent times they’ve found that edge by reinventing the classics we’ve grown up with. From Ma’s spicy lamb curry to colourful chat from roadside Dhabas, restaurants are now retaining the rudiments of home-style and street food while serving them up with gorgeous plating and gourmet twists.

7. Wining and dining

While India may not flaunt social drinking as part of its culture, the winds are changing fast with an appreciation for liquor and spirits setting in. Whether it’s pairing a mature glass of red with fragrant biriyani or enjoying a mug of beer with some sliders, alcohol is here to stay. This gives restaurants the opportunity to create some ingenious meal combinations.

8. Technologically powered

Cooking has always depended on efficient machinery to get the job done but our reliance on technology is increasing evermore. Restaurants have begun introducing tablets to streamline the ordering process and keep waiting patrons happily engaged. Text-based notification software which alerts them when a table frees up, giving them the chance to take a stroll or go on a drive, is also becoming commonplace.

9. Ghost restaurants

These are virtual establishments that offer only take-out or delivery services. By veering away from traditional dining these places are free to focus on running an organised kitchen, experimenting with diverse flavours and constantly updating their menu. The soaring popularity of food-delivery apps coupled with this generation’s on-the-go lifestyle has contributed, in no small part, to the entry of ghost restaurants.

10. Experiential eating

Today’s youth can’t be lured away from the convenience of ordering in by just good food. They seek a consummate dining experience that makes for quality social media fodder. Pop-ups, themed eateries, interactive dishes, striking ambience, snazzy décor, culinary aesthetics and a host of other factors that were once secondary to the menu, have become part and parcel of consumer expectations.

Is there a culinary trend we missed in this list? What are your culinary predictions? Which ones are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments.

Why Should You Hire A Restaurant Consultant

There is little that’s more exciting than taking the plunge into the intriguing world of Food & Beverage. As an entrepreneur, you build a vision in your mind of that perfect restaurant. You’ve thought about how it’s going to look, what it’s going to serve, even what your staff is going to wear. You’ve dreamed of glowing reviews, delighted customers, and tills overflowing with cash.

So why then, would you have need for a restaurant consultant? What can they bring to the table that you haven’t already thought of?



The greatest source of knowledge is experience – and we cannot stress this enough. Restaurant consultants who have been-there-done-that for decades, bring with them a treasure chest of learnings, failings, risings, wisdom.
As an entrepreneur yourself, you go into business knowing there will be challenges – known and unknown. A seasoned restaurant consultant will stand by you through them to find the most efficient solutions. They know which nitty- gritties to think about.

Is your restaurant located at the right corner of the right street? Does your brand positioning or pricing match your target-audience? Do you have the correct licenses and the right brand colours? How do you get your chef and your operations head to work towards the same goals? Is your retention rate satisfactory? Is your kitchen designed scientifically? Experience teaches us the answers to these.



Your network can be your net-worth. Restaurant consultants work hard to build solid widespread networks and invest in forming positive relationships. In the business of restaurants, you will find yourself dealing with a new crisis every day. The power of networks can solve so many of them in a flash.

Your major equipment broke down and vendor not responding? Don’t know where to source the best soy sauce, or a chef to fix your kitchen line management? Lost all your staff to a competitor and running around doing everything yourself? Launched a new menu and wondering how to get the food bloggers to taste and review?

Good restaurant consultants can jump in for hands-on support, pull strings, and use their relationships to do things “only for you!”


Financial Acumen

When you are in the thick of running your business and putting out every day fires, goal-setting can become a non-priority. Before you know it, you are bleeding money away without knowing where or how to stop. In a business as dynamic as running a restaurant, losing sight of goals, costs and profitability can prove disastrous.

Your restaurant consultant can handle all this for you. Top line goal-setting with revenue targets, P&L statements, where and how to control costs, and improving bottom lines.



If you didn’t have passion for the industry, you wouldn’t be in the industry. Restaurant consultants share that passion complemented by the strongest desire to contribute towards shaping trending, successful restaurants.

Working with someone that shares the same interests, has the same goals, and wants to see you succeed can be empowering. So much of business is about bouncing thoughts off of each other. It’s about seeking and offering counsel, learning from experiences, and making the most conscious effort to do better every day.

Gourmet Sage does exactly that – work with you day in and day out to bring the best version of your restaurant to life. With over 2 decades of niche industry experience and a robust network, this consultancy is your go-to for all things restaurant.

Reach us at +91 98403 60066 or www.gourmetsage.com


Rajesh is a passionate and seasoned hospitality professional who founded Gourmet Sage in 2018, after 2 decades of experience in the industry.