11 Restaurant Merchandise Ideas To Keep Them Coming Back

top restaurant merchandise ideas promotional items

What makes a customer come back to a restaurant, cafe, or food truck? Well, most people will list one of the following food service preferences: 

●  Exquisite food 
●  Acceptable selection of beverages 
●  Elegant ambiance 
●  Perfect background music 
●  Solid atmosphere 
●  Phenomenal location 
●  Excellent service 

And make no mistake, all of the above is valid — no restaurant can function unless it has a bit of everything noted above. But some restaurants take a page or two out of the average business’ book. One idea that a lot of them borrow is the idea of branded marketing via merchandise. 

In order to get the best of promotional marketing for restaurateurs, you will need to think about products that have staying power. The promotional item experts at GoPromotional shared with us these 11 top ideas for restaurants from their hospitality customers. 

11 Most Common Restaurant Promotional Products 

1. Aprons 

An apron is a common item found in most professional kitchens, as well as the average household. As an employer, you will want your staff to feel like pros, so giving away an apron or two with your brand’s logo is perfect. On top of that, if you happen to be running a cooking class, provide your students with some aprons and see how well they fit. 

Naturally, you can give aprons away or sell them at a reasonable price in the restaurant itself. They make for excellent souvenirs, especially to people who enjoy cooking. 

2. Glassware 

One reason behind people buying branded alcoholic drinks is the clever marketing that involves glassware. After all, drinking Heineken from a huge beer jug with the Heineken logo is always an interesting experience. So, as a restaurant owner, you might want to invest in glasses that have your brand’s logo printed on them. Better yet, engraving the logo onto each glass will have more of an effect. 

3. Cooler Bag 

What do you give to a loyal customer who orders takeout food from your restaurant every other night? What about customers that visit weekly and bring new friends with them every time they do? Well, you provide them with a handy cooler bag. 

Cooler bags are not only stylish and elegant, but also incredibly useful. People can take them to a picnic, a hike, a walk, or an outdoor camp, and it will keep the food fresh and the drinks cold. Cooler bags also make great tools for grocery shopping, helping to keep perishables cool during the trip between the store and your refrigerator! And your logo on that cooler bag will be an excellent way to spread some brand awareness. 

4. T-Shirts 

Everyone needs a shirt from time to time. And nothing feels better than receiving a nice, 100% cotton, high-quality tee for free during an event or a celebration. Loyal customers can also receive them as a token of gratitude and good will. 

Naturally, you can go a step beyond and actually merchandise with shirts, distributing them as branded products that anyone can purchase and enjoy. Also, don’t be afraid to have your workers wear them. They will promote the brand passively, but more importantly, they will be wearing a high-end product, that they’ll genuinely enjoy, throughout the shift. 

5. Paper Bags 

What might be the biggest advantage of a big paper bag? Well, it’s quite durable and eco-friendly, and both of these properties are necessary in 2022. Plus, a decent paper bag has a huge canvas for any corporate logo to fit and to be seen by anyone. Every time you give away one of these bags, you will effectively be giving your customers a walking commercial for your business. 

6. Napkins 

An average napkin is decent enough. It’s there to help you wipe away any food or drink remains, and after you’re done, you discard it. In short, it’s an object with a limited lifespan and it’s quite expendable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it as an effective component of your restaurant’s branding. 

Lots of restaurants print their own napkins, and some of them go above and beyond to achieve an excellent result. The best napkins are the ones you don’t want to actually use, the ones you will want to take with you and keep as part of a collection. In addition, these little slits of slim paper will be on every table, advertising your brand further to everyone who uses them. 

7. Pens 

Sometimes, you need to stick with the classics, and in the world of promotional gifts and merchandising, the most basic item for sale or gift-giving is a ball-point pen. For a good reason — pens are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and take up little room. Plus, they can act as a walking advertisement, since you will be reminded of their brand every time you use them. 

You can sell or give pens away, or you can simply place them in a cup for your staff and customers to use. Either way, they will have your company logo right there, for anyone to see. 

8. Reusable Cutlery 

Let’s say that you wanted to advertise your brand while thinking green. Then your solution is simple, and it involves reusable cutlery. 

By giving your customer a set consisting of a spoon, knife, and fork all made of wood, you signal a few things. Firstly, you are showing them that you care. Secondly, you’re willing to spend a little extra on their gifts. And lastly, you’re showing that you’re concerned for the safety of your planet. 

9. Reusable Coffee Cups 

Anything reusable is good, since you’re not creating any additional waste by using durable and long-lasting items. One such item, a reusable coffee cup, is perfect as a gift, either for your customers or your staff. The promotional item experts at GoPromotional say that the stainless steel travel mugs that are so popular today are in high demand from their hospitality clients. 

Gareth Parkin shares, “We have pubs that stock dozens of these a week, using them for giveaways, personalizing them and storing them for regulars to use, or even serving particular drinks in them. Some get their suppliers to share the cost.”  for  t’s an excellent object that you can machine-wash, dry, and use anew as many times as possible. 

10. Mints 

Restaurants focus on food, that much is true. However, eating in one spot for a long time may cause you to have bad breath. So, what better way to fix that than with mints at the dinner table? 

Mints are an excellent gift, insofar as they are both creative and practical. By giving away a box of mints, you signal to the customer that you spared no expense and thought of every detail to enhance their dining experience. 

11. Coasters 

A coaster is an elegant solution in several ways. First, it makes sure that no stains from the liquid remain on the table. Next, it is an excellent gift due to its low price and small size. Finally, it gives an extra bit of decorum to an otherwise empty living room table. 

Restaurants like to keep things tidy, which is why they encourage the use of coasters. But more importantly, a coaster can be of any size, and it can contain any logo or slogan on it. In other words, it was tailor-made for merchandising. 

Maximize Merchandise

As a restaurateur entrepreneur, you should keep in mind that your competition doesn’t sleep. In fact, they can come up with some of the same merchandising ideas as you did. The key is to do the proper research beforehand and focus on being as creative and original as possible with your restaurant or food service business marketing. Even an overused, simple idea like offering pens to customers can be original and fresh if you put your mind to it.

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