In an era of “do it yourself,” many people today are looking for ways to create something of their own. These same people are looking to understand how something is made in order to place special value on it. In short, they want to cultivate a better appreciation for the things they spend money on.
Combine this desire for creation and value by providing a new and interactive experience for your customers, host educational cooking classes.
Where to Begin
Start with your restaurant’s overall concept and expertise. Pick an item from your menu that is commonly ordered and even more commonly prepared incorrectly at home. Learn the history of that item, its ingredients, the origins of the recipe and possible variations to accommodate allergies or dietary restrictions.
Some ideas of menu items to workshop can include:
- Neapolitan Pizza
- Chili or Soup
- Wine Pairing
- Fresh Pasta
- Bread Making
- Holiday Dishes
Who to Invite
Think about the core market audience for the type of workshop you are hosting. Mix the idea of bringing people together in a comfortable setting with something that might otherwise be intimidating to the average person outside of the culinary world.
Consider pairing the following menus and demographics:
- Teaching families how to make a home cooked meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a side vegetable.
- Entice couples to learn about scotch and how to cook the perfect steak.
- Mix with the single crowd in a wine and cheese pairing class.
- Cater to the advanced home foodie with creative fresh pasta recipes and accompanying sauces.
- Celebrate the holidays with all ages and teach guests about the history of popular seasonal dishes and how to prepare them.
How to Market Your Event
Get the word out about your innovative approach to a new dining experience on your restaurant’s website or social media outlet. Viral online marketing increases the ability for your event information to be shared. The information can then be shared among friends and social forums. For in-house marketing tactics, program your point of sales system to include a small blurb about the upcoming event. Keep it short and direct. Consider using menu inserts or table tents, to advertise the event as well.
- “Have a bloody good time, become an expert on scotch and steak. Find out more at (your website name.)”
- “Tired of the same date night? Get more action and learn to cook. Find out more at (your website name.)”
- “Invest in child labor: Family cooking classes here every Saturday afternoon. Find out more at: (your website name.)”
Keep you marketing message playful and inviting and be sure to include the date, time, age requirement if any, level of expertise required and a call to action of “limited space available.” This will speak of exclusivity and will keep your numbers manageable. If your workshop has an overwhelming response, consider opening a second time slot on a different date.
What to Plan
The initial step of planning will involve having a rough idea of how many people you can accommodate efficiently. Survey the space you have available and consider the equipment, prep space and personal space you will need for everyone to be comfortable. With a number of guests in mind, begin advertising your workshop to customers a month before the workshop’s date.
Consider the following time slot ideas:
- Pick a slow business night and close the restaurant to the general public.
- Plan a Sunday afternoon workshop for people planning weekly home menus.
- Choose Saturday afternoons to cater to the “dining at home” crowd.
- Host a Wednesday “hump day” soiree to jazz up the work week blues.
Other Planning Considerations
- Prep chopped items and any other possible hazards ahead of time to avoid incident.
- Ensure a smooth event that makes food fun and engaging.
- Keep in mind that the easier it is to create a dish, the more fun your guests will have in making it their own.
Create a fun, educational and engaging experience for your customers and make your restaurant a memorable location. Reach out to your community and bridge a connection to market your food service establishment as the “go-to” place for a good time.