With cold weather creeping across the country, restaurants are hunkering down for the winter and looking for ways to drive traffic in this newly safety-conscious environment.

While patio dining was a successful tool during the warm months, there are fewer opportunities for outdoor dining now, and many guests will fall back on takeout and delivery. Here are a few ways to stay top-of-mind with your customers and drive traffic to your business.

Keep it Cozy (To Go)

Winter is the prime season for comfort food, and that’s great news for chefs because comfort food usually travels well, making it a good option for takeout and delivery customers. Highlight menu items and beverages that inspire warm, cozy feelings — hearty soups and stews and warm, spicy cocktails — to let your customers know your menu is winter-ready and available for deliver.

Help Home Cooks

With the cold weather, some folks begin preparing more elaborate meals at home. This can be a great way to connect with your customers. Look at your menu for meals you can pack up for guests to take and make at home. Break down individual components and provide directions (a video of your chef preparing the recipe would also be a great touchpoint) so that guests can have a gourmet cooking experience in the comfort and safety of their homes.

'Tis the Season to Drive TrafficCookie Swap

Cookies are all the rage, especially among Insta-bakers, this winter. If your pastry chefs are game, consider packing up a fun box of cookies in a variety of flavors that guests can give as gifts (and enjoy for themselves, too). When planning packaging for gifting, remember to keep in mind durability, travel-readiness, and of course, presentation.

Become Part of the Solution

The early months of the year are where we see consumers making choices based on resolutions and goals, such as making healthier dining choices. Tap into those New Year’s resolutions with offers that appeal to this kind of customer. If you have healthy, clean-eating menu items, this is a good time to share them on social media and in your newsletter and promote them with limited-time promotions.

Connect with Community

The winter can be a difficult time for many who are facing housing and food insecurity. Look for ways in which your restaurant can provide relief in the community, such as hosting canned food or coat drives, special give-back nights benefitting local nonprofits, or opportunities to feed first responders and other essential workers. Share the message of community connection with your customers and local media to let them know how you’re making a difference.

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