Business tips

Should your restaurant participate in food festivals?

By Jereme Sanborn on
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When a customer strolls around a food festival and samples the fare for offer, they get much more than just lunch or dinner. The reason many people make it a point to attend these events transcends the mere filling of their stomachs. 

In fact, food festivals provide diverse foods in a casual community setting that brings about an all-encompassing experience as intoxicating as some of the dishes that are featured. If you own a restaurant or food truck, consider enhancing your offerings by making yourself known at one of these local events.

The benefits of participating in a food festival.

Branching out in this way may seem daunting. Perhaps you’re even wondering whether taking this step makes sense for your eatery. Here’s why it’s worth the investment: The potential to increase your profits is the most compelling justification. In the highly competitive food industry, there are times when it pays off to do the different and the unexpected. 

Transporting your restaurant outdoors for a day or two lets you take your deliciousness directly to the hungry people who are ready and willing to sample it. The result of reaching a new crowd may very well equate to higher daily profits, as well as future loyal patrons.

Participating in one of these events gives you the chance to introduce yourself to an entirely new set of potential fans. Customers who may have never heard of your restaurant or who wouldn’t bother to travel across town to try it can now get up close and personal, with both your staff and your delicious samplings. Once you have made a favorable impression on the road, the chances increase that these people will come to your brick-and-mortar restaurant in the future — and bring their friends as well.

Have you ever contemplated expansion or starting a food truck? 

Before taking that major plunge, why not test the waters by participating in a food festival? By doing so, you can gauge interest and even start conversations to get direct feedback from the locals who will attend the festivals. Based on this feedback you can then make a more informed decision about opening a new location in a new neighborhood or possibly expanding with a food truck to take your restaurant mobile. 

Speaking of conversations, being a part of one of these community events brings you out of the confines of your kitchen and into the wider world. With that expansion come numerous opportunities for getting and giving information and support to other business owners. Additionally, you never know who you might meet. Perhaps it will be your next business partner or your most motivated future employee. The only way to find out is to spread your wings.

These days, success comes when you develop a brand that people can get behind so that you can introduce it far and wide. Although you may think of branding as occurring more in the apparel retail sector, it is just as vital if you want your restaurant to rise to the top. Spreading the word about your unique foods and top-of-the-line customer service can take many forms, but don’t overlook the power of direct contact. People will tend to remember a business they have personally interacted with for much longer than one they have seen in an ad or a social media review. Food festivals provide an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate your community’s awareness and support of your brand.

You’re not the only one who might feel stifled at the stove; your cooking staff probably does, too. Expanding your operations outside to a food festival can get everyone’s creative juices flowing once again. By seeing what other food vendors have to offer and tasting different preparations, your cooks can become inspired to test and tweak. You never know, you could come away from the event with a new signature dish.

There is nothing like a road trip to build camaraderie. Cement that team spirit by taking your food to a festival, and you will get an opportunity to pass on some of your hard-won wisdom to your staff in a new and fun environment. People often learn more effectively when they are challenged and stimulated, so why not give everyone the chance to stretch and grow?

Offer payment flexibility.

When participating in a food festival, you must be flexible in the checkout options you offer. Most consumers don’t carry a lot of cash. Having the ability to accept credit card payments is important to be successful at any festival. Failing to do so could result in losing valuable business.

Investing in a mobile credit card reader is one of the best ways to accept payments anywhere. There are card readers that connect to your smartphone or tablet to allow for on-the-go payments. Or you can upgrade to a smart solution. Either way, letting your customers pay for your delicious food with plastic just might give your eatery the edge you’re looking for.

Some of the most important food festivals in the United States.

Tampa Bay, Florida. Tampa is home to the world's largest food truck rally, which happens during the fall season. Imagine having over 200 food choices, from traditional to fusion. Then put them all together in one combined event, and what you have is this extravaganza that takes place in sunny, shopper-friendly Florida. If you own a food truck and feel the urge to hit the road, there is no better option than to come down to the Sunshine State to participate in this soiree for the stomach.

Atlanta, Georgia. Everyone is talking about Atlanta, one of America’s top cities. This street food festival, which happens during the summer, is a marquee cultural gathering that brings together thousands of eager, hungry tourists each year. From local favorites to intriguing food offerings from around the country, taking part in this event gives you a chance to introduce yourself to a whole new audience.

Chicago, Illinois. The Windy City is known for its Midwestern hospitality and its fantastic museums and shopping opportunities. Right along with these attractions comes a long and diverse food culture history that this food truck festival embraces with open arms. The event already attracts over 40,000 starving seekers every fall, so why not introduce them to your delectable dishes?

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The H&8th Night Market is part of the Oklahoma City Pro-Am cycling event that takes place every spring. People flock to this fun event because of its pet- and family-friendly vibe, but they also love it thanks to its wide selection of tasty foods.

The pandemic has forced customers and restaurateurs alike to be shut away and locked down. Become a part of the food festival phenomenon to reintroduce your unique and delicious products to the world at large!

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