restaurant merchandise ideas
by Laura-Andreea Voicu
How to Sell Restaurant Merchandise to Boost Profits and Brand Recognition

Restaurants have evolved from brick-and-mortar stores to fully-fledged brands that transcend their physical location and food. So, you need a well-crafted brand if you want customers. Through merchandising, you can develop that brand.

Restaurant merchandise does not just serve as an additional revenue stream. It also helps you nurture your community and promote your restaurant, as well as encourage Facebook likes and Instagram reach. Customers feel more connected with you if they have something from you. When they carry the items around, they market your brand, too.

The bottom line is if you’re a restaurant owner, you should offer some merchandise to nurture and grow your customer base. Here are some restaurant merchandise ideas you can try.

8 Restaurant Merchandise Ideas to Keep Customers Coming

1. Shirts and hats

When talking about merch for restaurants, custom made t-shirts and hats are top of mind. They’re excellent restaurant merchandise ideas because they are easily customizable. You can choose to go with a simple print like your restaurant logo, or you can go all the way and design entire shirts and hats.

Besides, they’re great promotional vehicles. The customers who identify with your brand can literally wear their identity for the world to see. Shirts and hats fit easily with most people’s wardrobes so your customers can use them regularly, too.

Your customers aren’t the only people who can market your product through these items. You can also send this type of merch for restaurants to Instagram influencers as part of a quid pro quo agreement. This is an excellent way to get more exposure for your brand.

You can also sell your merchandise as a perfect gift for the holiday season.

2. Reusable tote bags

Reusable tote bags are another excellent restaurant merchandise idea. Tote bags are part of everyday life. We often need to carry things in transit, after all. When people use your branded totes, they’ll be taking your brand to every space they enter.

There are several ways you can introduce these reusable tote bags. If you don’t want your customers to pay for them, you can deliver food in your restaurant’s tote bag, for instance. You can give take-away customers their food in the bag as well.

Another strategy is to run a promotion where people win gift hampers carried in the bag.

Make the bag eco-friendly to appeal to even more customers. They can use it when going to the grocery shop or even when commuting and carrying electronics. That means more brand exposure for the restaurant, and, therefore, more chances of getting customers.

Tote bags are a great merchandise idea for restaurants since they can market your restaurant practically everywhere. They are a popular item, so you can explore tote bag mockups to effortlessly design and visualize your unique branding ideas before moving forward with production.

3. Gift cards

Restaurant gift cards are a great way to give loved ones a memorable experience.

By merchandising a gift card for your restaurant, you not only get to add a revenue stream. You can also become a memorable part of your customers’ experiences.

The thing with gift cards is that they’re also usually transferable. If the original recipients can’t use them, they can just gift them to people they want to appreciate and recognize. So, these people can become your new customers, too.

What’s more, with gift cards, you increase your chances of generating some revenue, too. Just imagine this scenario. The card recipient wants something from your restaurant, but the amount exceeds the amount loaded in the gift card. That just means they’ll have to pay you that excess amount.

4. Customized mugs or water bottles

Mugs and water bottles are functional products that we use every day. When you customize them, and people use them, you essentially integrate your brand with everyday activities.

Even if your customers don’t use them, for as long as they identify themselves with you, they can just as easily display the mugs and water bottles in their spaces.

Either way, you position your brand in such a way that everybody can see it. That increases your chances of getting more customers.

5. Coasters and napkins

Coasters and napkins can be great merchandise products for restaurants.

As your customers are dining in your establishment or having a drink, having a branded coaster or napkin elevates the service.

The customer appreciates the detail and thought put into having the napkin and coaster branded. Loyal customers might even be interested in buying the branded napkins and coasters.

Besides, the items can make your restaurant a conversational topic on dining tables and home bars. If your customers take the branded napkins someplace else, they give your brand added exposure, too.

You can add your website URL to coasters and napkins with a message saying “Order Now” or “Place an Order Online” to promote your pickup and delivery service.

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6. Keychains, phone cases, and stickers

Keychains, phone cases, and stickers are excellent restaurant merchandise ideas, too. We use these accessories daily, after all.

You can use them as promotional products or sell them to diversify your revenue streams or both.

When branding these items, just make sure you insert something people will easily recognize. This is important because you want the item to be associated with your brand when someone sees it.

If you don’t have something people can easily associate with your brand, just include your restaurant’s name and logo.

7. Aprons

Kitchen staff in most restaurants have aprons. When customers are served by employees wearing branded aprons, their customer experience improves. They see that you put some thought and effort into your service and presentation.

Give your loyal customers access to these aprons. They won’t just feel like they are making delicious food when they’re cooking. They’ll also feel more connected to you.

When they wear them at social events like barbecue parties, other people will learn about your brand as well.

Just make sure your branded apron is visually appealing. If the apron doesn’t pass the minimum aesthetic standards, you’ll just end up with a tarnished reputation.

8. Cookbooks

If your customers enjoy your food, they are curious about how you prepare it. Creating a cookbook is how you answer their queries. And if you put together a recipe photo book, it will also showcase your most impressive creations in a way that’s visually engaging as well as super straightforward to follow.

A cookbook won’t just be an additional revenue stream. It will also allow you to touch the hearts of your customers. After all, they’ll feel like you’re letting them in on your little culinary secrets.

Besides, if your customers get to cook excellent food at a social event, they’ll spread the good word about your recipes. In the process, they’ll promote your restaurant.

In Closing

Restaurant merchandising is more than just a means to increase your revenue. It’s a way to brand and market your restaurant, too.

You learned eight restaurant merchandise ideas from this article. These are:

  • Shirts and hats
  • Tote bags
  • Gift cards
  • Mugs and water bottles
  • Coasters and napkins
  • Keychains, phone cases, and stickers
  • Aprons
  • Cookbooks

Whatever you choose to offer, these restaurant items are good marketing assets. They can help you nurture your relationships with loyal customers and lay the foundation for new customer relationships. Don’t miss out!

This article is a guest post.

Author Bio

Harry Flynn leads the digital marketing team at Twicsy, a site providing services to Instagram users. He enjoys traveling and relaxing with friends in his spare time.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.