How to Fill Seats When You Change Your Restaurant’s Format

Crab Pot Business Cards

When Long Beach Washington’s Crab Pot Restaurant & Seafood Market  decided on a format change and remodeled their restaurant over the winter, they knew they needed to get the word out to customers –and potential customers– about the change.  Moving to a “Crab Shack” model where orders are made at a counter and service is largely DIY meant risking disappointment with existing customers expecting a dining room experience.

Crab Pot Rack Card MenusAt the same time, the cocktail lounge was removed, in favor of a softer beverage menu ending at beer and wine.  Lounge marketing was refocused to the Seafood Market, including Picnic Buckets to go.

Benefits of the new format included lower prices and a faster dining experience.  The Picnic Buckets received early favor and were positioned to draw attention to the Market.

In addition to a new menu, business and menu rack cards were updated using the popular art of artist Don Nisbett, and printed in quantity; distribution was aggressive.  A Facebook page was created and considerable effort put toward connecting with existing customers (and making new friends along the way).

The result?  Word spread like wildfire through the local area and seats were kept full in the early weeks following re-opening.  The experiences these patrons had drove word-of-mouth advertising to keep the restaurant busy until the tourist season went into full swing.  Success!