Restaurant Week. Something that people buzz about, but what is it and what is the value to your business? For the most part, a Restaurant Week is a period of time between one week and two in which local area restaurants offer a prix fixe menu of 3-4 courses for a fixed (typically low) price. Price ranges are between $20-$30 for everything, and it's a great chance for local diners to try a full, decadent meal at your establishment at a lower cost.
The cons of this model are pretty obvious, especially for fine dining establishments. It's just not a lot of money per course to cover food costs. But done correctly, restaurant weeks can be an excellent marketing opportunity for your establishment to attract new customers and give a nice treat to your loyal following. Here are some things to consider before signing up:
How is the restaurant week marketed? Typically, a local media company will be in charge of your local restaurant week. They may charge a flat fee OR have an advertising obligation to participate. Because of this, as well as your lower profit margin, there may be a financial burden with participation, so ensure that the media company is going to market this well, and that it's a popular and well established event in the community. They should have, at least, a landing page where people can view your prix fixe menu, as well as some sort of advertising and social media campaign and/or TV spots on local morning shows to raise awareness of the restaurant week. Also, consider the time of year. You don't want to lower your prices drastically when you're in your busy season. The best restaurant weeks will happen in the dead of winter or middle of summer - typically times which are slower (unless you're a shoreline/seasonal establishment, in which case the exact opposite may be true).
When putting together your menu, think about food costs, but also consider what is a really good representation of your restaurant. You don't want to put out food which is not up to your usual quality - tempting though it may be - at that price. This won't give any new customers a good idea of who you are. The main benefit of restaurant weeks are to fill your tables during a slow couple of weeks and also expose new diners to your establishment, so make a menu which is cost effective, yet highly appealing and representational of your overall brand. In addition, consider offering add ons which can increase your overall ticket cost. A bottle of wine for $30, or a $15 surchage for a lobster tail can raise the ticket price drastically per table and boost your overhead.
Finally, make sure you have the correct menu to market to restaurant week consumers. If your average menu item costs around $10, for example, there may not be as much value in a $30 prix fixe meal for consumers. In a situation like this, get creative - offer movie tickets or a beer flight, or a souvenir glass or t shirt, in order to justify the cost of the meal. And be sure to advertise your offerings on your own Facebook and Instagram pages also!