Tis’ the season to get spooky. October is finally here, which means that Halloween is just around the corner, and everyone’s getting into the frightfully fun spirit. Like most major holidays, Halloween is a great time to come up with themed promotions and events to engage customers and boost business at your restaurant or bar. It’s no secret that everyone loves to dress up and participate in Halloween fun, so customers will enjoy all the fright night-themed activities and sales at your restaurant.
Why Your Restaurant Should Include Halloween Marketing
Boosting sales at your restaurant or bar can be tricky. Taking advantage of the upcoming holiday season is a great way to draw in customers by coming up with themed promotions, events, menu changes, and sales that relate to the current holiday. Halloween is a great promotional opportunity for your business, as many customers are looking to spend on seasonal items that get them into the Halloween spirit.
Halloween is a holiday that appeals to customers of all ages, making it ideal for promoting it at your restaurant, bar, catering service, or food truck. Not only is including Halloween promotions relevant for the season, but you’ll be able to catch the eye of potential customers who are looking to participate in or enjoy Halloween festivities.
Creating connections with your customers is a key part of driving traffic to your restaurant. Your competitors might have already started looking into Halloween-themed festivities to bring in customers, so it’s important to stay ahead. By incorporating Halloween-themed sales and menu items at your establishment, you’ll be able to show customers a more relatable side of your business while also spreading the word about your restaurant and its promotions or events.
How To Bring Halloween To Your Restaurant
While you could just decorate your establishment with some cobwebs, lights, and skeletons - if you’re looking to have a Halloween-themed takeover for the month of October, we’ve compiled some scary-good ideas to make the most of the holiday.
1. Host A Week Of Halloween Promotions
A great way to get into the Halloween spirit days ahead is by creating themed sales the week prior to October 31st. Come up with select sales on menu items for each day of the week, such as:
- Free drink with your order
- 31% off select side or entree
- Buy 1 cocktail, get 1 one free
- Halloween Happy Hour - 50% off of drinks and appetizers
- 75% off of seasonal menu items
- Free side with your order
- Dress up in a costume for a free entree
Be sure to promote your restaurant’s upcoming specials on social media platforms, printed flyers, or email campaigns to get the word out to customers.
2. Change The Names Of Your Menu Items To Halloween-Themed Puns
Spookify your menu with some scary-good names. Take a look at your menu or even the popular menu items at your restaurant to narrow down your list and replace the names of your menu items with some Halloween puns. While there won’t be any actual changes to the meals served at your restaurant, by simply changing the names featured on your menu to Halloween-themed ones, you’ll attract customers who enjoy the playful take on the holiday.
Below are some suggestions on how to change the names of your menu items:
- Soups - Witches Brew or Vampire Stew
- Bowls - Monster Mashup
- Pizza - Mummy Pizza
- Drinks - Devil’s Potion or Vampire Blood
3. Create A Spooky Cocktail List
If you’re looking to attract more customers to your bar this Halloween, consider creating a limited ‘Fright Night’ themed drink menu, only available in October. Customers love taking advantage of limited or special promotions, especially when it’s a menu full of fun and enticing cocktails. Draw inspiration from classic Halloween imagery like witches, vampires, zombies, and skeletons to come up with interesting cocktail combinations.
Keep your cocktail list limited to 3-5 drinks, and be sure to come up with cocktails using the mixes and liquors you already have on hand, to keep things budget-friendly. To get extra-spooky, incorporate Halloween-themed colors into your cocktail, like orange, purple, or green, to make drinks stand out. You can try decorating your cocktails with Halloween-inspired picks to add a mystical and festive touch to your drinks. Name your cocktails appropriately by using Halloween puns, or even decorate your cocktail menus with cobwebs, tombstones, or other October 31st imagery.
4. Decorate Your Restaurant In A Spooky Fashion
Spread the Halloween cheer all throughout your restaurant by decorating your entrance, dining area, or pick-up area with spooky and festive decorations. If you’re offering limited seating or outdoor dining during this time of year, consider adding the following decorations to your restaurant or bar:
- Hanging bat banners
- Halloween-themed centerpieces, napkins, or candles
Your customers will appreciate the effort put into making their dining experience feel extra-haunted during October.
5. Add A Seasonal Halloween Item To Your Menu
Similar to creating a Halloween cocktail list, adding a seasonal Halloween item to your menu is the perfect way to draw customers into your restaurant this time of year. Including a special menu item, only available during October or on Halloween, instantly attracts customers looking to take advantage of limited-time promotions.
Believe it or not, you might find that the seasonal item offered at your restaurant will do better in sales than even your most popular menu items during the time it’s offered. To keep meals Halloween-related, incorporate seasonal fall flavors such as pumpkin, butternut squash, or apple, and be sure to give your seasonal item a clever and spooky name.
6. Murder Mystery Meal Kit
If your restaurant is used to getting into the Halloween spirit every year, you might have already hosted a murder mystery-themed dinner at your establishment. However, with the growing number of customers opting to stay in this year, there is a rising demand for take out and delivery orders. So instead of hosting a frightful evening full of delicious food and ‘Who-dun-it’ moments at your restaurant, allow customers to take their murder mystery meals to go.
How To Create A Murder Mystery Meal Kit
- Take a look at your menu: Select the most popular appetizers, entrees, sides, drinks, or desserts you would like to include in your meal kit.
- Write out your game instructions: If you’ve already hosted a murder mystery dinner at your restaurant, simply modify the game instructions for guests dining at home. If you’ve never hosted a murder mystery dinner before, get creative or reference classic murder mystery games and movies to come up with your game instructions.
- Assemble your meal kit: Be sure to be flexible and provide customers with several serving size options for these meal kits, to accommodate the number of guests participating in the dinner.
- Include your game instructions in your meal kit: Place your game instructions on a recipe card, and be sure to store game instructions separately from the food to avoid any damage to the instructions during delivery.
- Include a prize for the winner: Add a promotional reward like a 50% off or free delivery card for the winner of the dinner, so they can come back to your restaurant and reap the benefits of their winnings.
7. Host A Costume Contest Online
Everyone’s getting into the Halloween spirit, and so should your restaurant or bar! Allow customers to show off their creative, well-thought-out costumes and Halloween gear on October 31st by hosting a costume contest on your social media platforms or in person. If your business is open for dine-in service on Halloween, encourage customers to show up dressed up in their best costumes and host a costume contest on-site.
However, if you’re aiming to reach a wider audience with your costume contest, a great way to do so is by hosting an online costume contest on your social media platforms. Ask customers to submit pictures of their creative and spooky outfits and have your followers vote on their favorite costume the night before Halloween. Announce the winners on Fright Night and offer them a special promotion or free meal as their prize.
8. Plan A Halloween Takeover For Social Media
Step up your restaurant’s social media game by hosting a Halloween takeover on social media platforms the week leading up to Halloween. Take a pause from the traditional posts and advertisements for the week and replace them with some spooky content. Create posts that advertise your restaurant’s Halloween promotions, activities, and special sales to get the word out about your business.
Consider making daily posts or stories on your social media platforms to keep followers updated on everything going on at your restaurant or bar days before the holiday. Your loyal customers will share and spread your restaurant’s page to their followers and instantly generate traffic to your restaurant.
9. Partner With A Local Business For Halloween Treats
Regardless of a holiday event, your customers enjoy seeing your business participate in their community. But there isn’t a more opportune time to partner with local businesses or restaurants around the year than during the holiday season when customers are looking to spend on holiday-themed meals and desserts.
If your restaurant is looking to include some Halloween treats without altering its menu during October, consider partnering with a local bakery or catering service to come up with a range of Halloween desserts, like decorated cupcakes, brownies, or other spooky sweets.
10. Through The Decades Night
Hop on to your time machines and go back in time for one night only at your restaurant by hosting a ‘Through The Decades’ night. Gather your employees and take a poll on their favorite decades, or what time periods they would like to represent. Your staff could either stick to all dressing up in costumes that resemble the iconic silhouettes and styles of their preferred decade or choose to dress up individually as their favorite time period.
Whether it’s the 70s or 90s, or even medieval or renaissance-themed, your employees will appreciate being able to dress up for the night. And don’t forget to let customers in on the fun too! Consider offering guests a discount on their meals if they dress up in theme. Be sure to post flyers advertising your themed costume night on various social media platforms, so your customers can start planning what they’re going to wear.
11. Haunted Brunch
Want to get rid of the Sunday scaries? Try hosting a haunted brunch! If your restaurant already has a well-known and delicious brunch menu, it’s a perfect time to spookify it for Halloween. Hosting a haunted brunch is a great opportunity to offer limited food and drink deals during the month of October for customers dining at your restaurant.
Take a look at your current menu, and decide whether or not you would like to offer the same food and cocktail items for your haunted brunch. Your business could consider creating a limited menu that features specific deals on a concise amount of meals and drinks, instead of your entire brunch menu. And don’t be afraid to get extra scary in designing your brunch menu, be sure to include Halloween-themed cocktails, food items, and more.
12. Trick or Treat Bags: To Go
Everyone knows that the best part of Halloween is indulging in all the candy and chocolates on October 31st. If your restaurant has a long-standing tradition of offering a bowl of sweets for customers or passerby trick-or-treaters, you might want to look into upgrading the way you hand out treats this year. To put a spin on traditional trick-or-treat bowls, your restaurant should consider creating individual trick-or-treat bags to hand out to guests.
Have employees spend some time packaging candies, chocolates, and other sweets into small to-go bags. If you’re short on time, consider partnering with a dessert catering service or bakery to help create trick-or-treat bags. Pass out individual to-go kits for trick-or-treaters on Halloween night and indulge in all the Halloween fun! Don’t forget to advertise your to-go treat kits on your restaurant’s social media platforms.
13. ‘Howl-o-ween’ Pet Costume Contest
Our furry and friendly pets love getting into the Halloween spirit as much as we do! If you own a pet-friendly establishment, don’t let your customers’ pets be left out of all the Halloween fun. Many people enjoy dressing up their pets in a variety of adorable Halloween pet costumes every year and showing them off. This provides a great opportunity for your restaurant to connect with your Halloween-loving customers and their pets.
Consider running a ‘Howl-o-ween pet costume contest’ on your social media platforms. Have your followers submit pictures or videos of their pets in their Halloween costumes, and create a hashtag for your event so they can tag it in their posts. Randomly select a few winners or host a poll amongst your followers to declare a winner. You can even display the winning pictures at your restaurant for other customers to see. Offer a prize for free treats or discounts on their owner’s next meal for the best-dressed or scariest pet.
There is a multitude of ways to integrate Halloween into the running of your restaurant, all of which have the potential to pique public interest, attract new customers, and improve customer loyalty. The suggestions above can be adapted to suit your establishment, whether it's a restaurant, bar, food truck, or cafe. Despite the unique challenges that this year has brought, Halloween offers a golden opportunity to bring fun and festive cheer to your customers while boosting business. So go ahead, don your creative caps, and let's make this Halloween season a spooktacular one!