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34 Restaurant Event Ideas to Boost Revenue in 2024

November 21, 2023 12 min
Director of Marketing at Eat App
Reviewed by
Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

The key to increasing revenue is to get more customers to visit your restaurant or bar. But if you're used to experiencing slow weekdays, that's easier said than done.

Events, however, can be the solution to help liven things up and bring in more customers. They're easy to set up and can boost your restaurant business.

But, coming up with new event ideas can be tricky, so we've put together a list of 34 creative event ideas you can do at your restaurant or bar.

These events will help you make more money, get known in your area, and attract new customers.

Benefits of restaurant and bar events

Before getting into the specifics of bar and restaurant events, let's take a look at a few of the amazing benefits that come along with them. 

Increase revenue on slow nights

Most bars will inevitably have slow evenings. Holidays, weekends, and hot summer days are all excellent times to do business. However, if you're open six days a week, having just two or three busy days can lead to problems.

Bar events are a great way to pass the time on quiet days. You can boost weeknight business and position your bar for long-term success by hosting events.

Make a statement in a competitive market

The restaurant and bar industries are fiercely competitive. The number of bars in the US increased steadily yearly to 68,000 by 2022.

Sadly, most don't survive past their early years—between two and three years—and achieve long-term success.

Therefore, in a market where competition is fierce, you need to provide something that your rivals don't.

Events draw customers inside and provide your bar and restaurant an opportunity to differentiate itself from the others.

Bring in new customers 

Events are a fantastic approach to draw in new customers to your bar. People seeking a drink after work and locals who happened to walk into your establishment are examples of traditional guests.

To draw in more business, you must take initiative. You can attract a wider range of customers to your bar by holding a variety of great events. Even when you're not holding events, you'll attract more visitors and build up your local reputation.

Your brand will become more well-known, more people will know about your bar, and you'll become a year-round favorite in the community if you regularly throw fantastic events.

Tips to create the best restaurant and bar event

Running successful restaurant events requires careful planning and execution. But what does this mean? In our experience, the key factors that determine success or failure are a deep insight into what will work at your restaurant, your potential audience, and your marketing.

These are the 3 things the best operators focus on across the thousands of events that have been run through Eat App's platform.

Understand your audience

Know your potential customers' preferences and interests. Tailor the event to suit the demographics of your regular guests or the target audience you wish to attract.

How to do this:

Use your customer data! Details about your guests that come from spend, order histories, or guest notes are great ways to come up with restaurant event ideas likely to appeal. Beyond this you probably already have a sense of who your audience is - so lean into it.


Pro tip

Collecting data with Eat App's CRM and reservation system is easy. Everything is segmentable so you can pull your key trends. We also make it easy for you to search all your guest notes for keywords.

Align with your brand

Ensure the event complements your restaurant's theme, cuisine, drinks menu, interior design, and overall brand image. We always encourage people to think very deeply about this.

Running events as an extension of your brand is key to throwing the best experiences for your guests.

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Marketing and promotion

Use the main digital channels social media, website, and email marketing as well as in-house promotions to spread the word. Target your marketing efforts to reach the right audience for your event with marketing automation tools where you can - these tend to have better results.


Pro tip

Consider events like cooking classes or after parties that might include a person with an already established audience then look at doing co-branded social media marketing together to promote the event.

Pre-payments and your events

In busy markets, hosting events is a smart way to draw people to your restaurant. Knowing how many guests will show up helps you plan better for food, drinks, seating, and staff. One way to do this is by offering pre-pay options, like selling tickets or meals in advance.

Make it easy for guests to book and pay ahead by including a link to your event page or booking widget in all your promotional stuff. You can set up a system for pre-payment right on your event page or during the booking process. Plus, when you encourage guests to pay in advance, they're more likely to turn up for the event.

Pre-payments speed everything up, allow you to plan better, and bank the revenue upfront.

Want to know more about prepayments and how they can help your venue? 

Request Demo

Tried and tested restaurant and bar event ideas

In our experience, you can come up with very creative, and unusual restaurant and pub event ideas but they might not work as well as you might expect.

This is because people are creatures of habit and often event types they've been to before are what will appeal to them now. In addition, certain event formats tend to suit restaurants more than others.

With that in mind, these are the classic restaurant event ideas we think tend to work well for restaurants.

Wine or beer-tasting events

These events, often featuring selections from local breweries or vineyards, are a staple in many restaurants. They are not only connoisseurs but also casual diners looking to explore different experiences. Alcohol-focused events tend to be fun and attractive to a broad range of people.

After parties

Depending on the type of restaurant you run, partnering with comedians, bands, or art galleries as their official after-party venue post-show or gallery viewing is a super way to run events.

Working with performers or artists doing midweek shows is often best as you are targeting getting more revenue in more off-peak times.

Pro tip: you'll probably need a decent sound system to run this event.

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Live music nights

Hosting live music, ranging from jazz bands to acoustic solo artists, creates a vibrant atmosphere. It's a great way to attract guests who are looking for live entertainment along with their meal.

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Cooking classes

These interactive events are a hit among food enthusiasts. Guests enjoy learning how to make dishes from the restaurant's menu, often led by the chef. It's a unique way to engage with customers.

This is a classic way to get more revenue outside of traditional dining. We've seen this work best focused around a single theme like making the best ravioli or cooking the perfect Pad Thai.

Check out Blackberry Farm for examples, or visit the River Cottage events courses page for tons of inspiration.

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Brunch events

Weekend brunches, often featuring special menus, cocktails like mimosas or Bloody Marys, and sometimes live music or other entertainment, are extremely popular. They appeal to a wide range of customers, but typically they attract young, professional audiences. 

For a great example of a restaurant that combines many of these classic restaurant event ideas, check out:

Need a bit more restaurant and bar event ideas that are out of the box? Keep reading to find out how you can lighten things up at your venue more. 

34 more restaurant event ideas

Dining in the dark

Let your customers experience dining in a new way. Turn off the lights to create a sensory dine-in experience that forces diners to connect with people around them despite being unable to see.

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Surprise menu night

Refresh your menu for a day and offer a unique tasting menu. Don't reveal the names of the dishes on this special menu until the last minute for an extra shock. Who doesn't love a surprise?

Food tasting event

What better way to liven up a slow night on your events calendar than treating guests to a food tasting?

Everyone loves food, and nothing better than being able to try a little of everything before choosing your favorite dish. Invite new guests and local chefs to come try your menu as a way to form a community and get feedback.

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Chef's table

Once a month, host an event where the chef comes out of the kitchen to give a demonstration. They can talk about best practices like how much salt and lime to put on a steak to make it tasty.

Guest chef night

At a guest chef night, the restaurant owner can invite local chefs to come and serve some of their tastiest dishes as a way to increase business and add a new twist to the usual menu. Guest chefs are happy to work with restaurants they admire and excite staff by keeping them on their toes.

Battle of the bartenders

Every quarter, arrange a face-off between two or more of your bartenders. Let guests decide the winner, then create restaurant promotions around the cocktails or signature drinks they whip up.

Networking events

Dive into the world of professional growth by hosting networking events at your restaurant. Make your establishment a hub where people with similar interests, from tech to finance, arts, or other fields, come together to broaden their professional circles.

Sporting events

You don't need to run a sports bar to host bar events in honor of the Super Bowl or the Olympics. Give customers a good reason to meet with friends at your unique events.

Tap takeover

Contact a local brewery and team up with them to host a tap takeover bar event featuring their beers. Bar events can introduce new beers to your menu and allow beer creators to give a small introduction about their brews.

Charity events

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About 53% of restaurants plan to invest in being a community event or charity sponsor​. source

Get involved with your community with a charity event strategy and give something back in the process. Many well-known restaurant brands have run charity events.

For example, Danny Meyer's group of restaurants has hosted various charity events, including fundraisers for hunger relief and community support programs.

Another example is Zuni Café, San Francisco where this iconic restaurant has been involved in charity events, often focusing on AIDS research and LGBTQ+ community support.

Open mic nights

Use the format of a hit television show like American Idol while hosting your open mic night with live music. Invite a local celebrity or local musicians to judge the participants and get the local radio station to cover it. Award the open mic night winner with a free meal or drink.

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Host events with a karaoke competition once or twice a month with the best performer getting their dinner paid for. Make sure the live music event includes a huge song selection available on the karaoke machine; you want to attract as many customers as possible and the bigger the song list, the better.

Battle of the bands

Restaurant events like Battle of the Bands involve both competition and live music – two things people love to see. Get local musicians to go head-to-head and let customers choose their favorite as the winner. 
Game nights that awaken guests' competitive spirits

Board games night

Know what other pairings, besides wine and cheese, work great in a restaurant? Food and games! Stock up on board games to attract guests who are looking to entertain themselves while snacking on appetizers.

Scavenger hunt

Give your clientele a mission and attract customers by having them find clues that lead to its successful completion. It's a fun event like no other.

Arcade weekend

From pinball machines to updated classics, arcade games will enhance the overall experience for restaurant guests. For older customers, you can capitalize on the nostalgia of 70s- or 80s movies through movie-based games.

Host live trivia

Weekly trivia nights are a fun way for restaurants to encourage people to come in and dine during the slower nights of the week. Live trivia challenges are a great way to bring in dozens of guests for a night of food, fun, and games. Invite guests to make teams and compete for 4-5 weeks. This can boost repeat business as participants pay weekly visits to your restaurant to finish what they started. 

80s fever night

Blast some 80s music and encourage customers to show up to a costume party in their best 80s attire. Add a unique twist to the event by offering food specials and drinks based on the 1980s.

Christmas events

Encourage guests to come in during Christmas week by holding an ugly sweater party. Share the worst dressed on your Instagram page and offer a free meal to the ugliest sweater wearer.

Need some inspiration? Check out these famous Christmas events run by restaurants.

Rolf's German Restaurant, New York City: Rolf's is famous for its extravagant Christmas decorations. The entire restaurant is transformed into a Christmas wonderland, adorned with thousands of lights, ornaments, and garlands, attracting both locals and tourists.

The Old Ebbit Grill, Washington D.C.: This historic establishment, located near the White House, offers a classic Christmas experience with its elegant holiday decor and traditional holiday menu.

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, Riverside, California: While not a restaurant per se, The Mission Inn's Festival of Lights is a renowned event. The hotel and its dining establishments are adorned with over 4 million lights and offer a range of holiday dining experiences.

Speed dating

A speed dating event tends to attract individuals who are new to the city and is a great way to introduce your restaurant to new faces.

Spa night

Hosting a spa night is one of the best restaurant event ideas to attract the weekend crowd by selling tickets ahead of time to boost revenue. Recruit a masseuse to give neck and shoulder massages at this fun restaurant event.

Couples' night

This event can be hosted on the last Saturday night of every month. Make sure to create special deals for two and have candlelit tables in place. This restaurant event idea should increase reservations for slow nights, double dates, and lots of extra revenue.

Art exhibition

Up the ante by hosting a local artist's work in your restaurant on slower nights to attract more people and create awareness for local businesses.

Stand-up comedy

For a cool comedy trivia night, just pop a mic stand in one corner, and line up some comedians, doesn't matter if they're newbies or pros.

Hit up some local theatre groups to find your funny guys and gals. The cool thing is, each comedian usually brings their crowd – so hey, that's a bunch of new faces for your bar.

Painting sessions

Guests can be given a canvas and some paint while a local artist guides them through the steps to paint a scenic landscape. Meanwhile, serve drinks and delicious food to both old and new customers.

Hire a close-up magician

Magicians like David Willmott and Grant Mitchell know exactly how to surprise restaurant guests with something extra. Whether it's during the wait as the kitchen prepares orders or to break the ice as people sit down to eat, close-up magicians can intrigue customers of all ages.

Food Tours

Your city is a hub for diverse cuisines and flavors. Consider hosting a food tour in your restaurant, weaving in stories about the local area's history and current scene. For an added twist, partner with nearby bars or restaurants to offer a unique, traveling food tour experience.

Pop-up event

Partner up with a local business to host a pop-up event like a craft beer-tasting night or a weekend visit to a farmer's market. Keep an eye out for local opportunities that can help you present your business and attract customers differently.

Celebrity meet and greet

If you can get a local celebrity to show up for an evening, then you have a great restaurant event idea at your disposal. Not only will they attract a flock of customers, but they can also help you increase revenue via themed menu items that are a reflection of their latest work.

Unique holidays

Make a statement by celebrating holidays that guests have hardly heard of. Fruitcake Toss Day, English Toffee Day, and Curried Chicken Day are just some of the fun events you can get involved in.

Valentine's Day

The day of love and friendship can be celebrated at a special event filled with hearts and cupids or a singles event involving an anti-valentines theme night. Either way, it's a great way to attract customers.

Saint Patrick's Day

St. Paddy's Day is one of the most celebrated cultural holidays around the world. With green beer to bangers and mash on the menu, it's a holiday season and bound to be a hit among drinkers and foodies alike.


This bar event stems from a long-standing German tradition of dressing up in lederhosen while drinking beer and eating food surrounded by company. The restaurant and hospitality industry can be sure to take advantage of this time as an opportunity to introduce new craft beers and show off German-style menu items.

Family days

A family-style night to celebrate special events like Mother's Day, Father's Day, or Children's Day is a great way to involve the whole family in restaurant events. Include special deals on food and drink to bring in new customers.

Promoting restaurant events

Promoting restaurant events effectively is important for attracting customers and ensuring the success of the event.

Here are five of the best tips for promoting restaurant events, along with examples:

Use social media marketing

Create engaging content for platforms like Instagram and Facebook. For a wine-tasting event, post high-quality images of the wines, short videos of wine being poured, or behind-the-scenes clips of sommeliers discussing the selection. Use relevant hashtags and encourage followers to share.

Double down on email marketing

Send out personalized email invitations for a special themed dinner night, like a "Mediterranean Feast". Include enticing descriptions of the menu and a link to easily make a reservation. Segment your email list to target regular customers or those who have attended similar events.

Collaborate with local influencers or bloggers

Invite a local food blogger or influencer to a preview of your "Farm-to-Table Dinner Series". Offer them a complimentary experience in exchange for social media coverage and a blog post. Their followers, who trust their recommendations, are likely to be interested in your event.

Offer exclusive discounts or packages

Promote an early bird special for a New Year’s Eve party. Offer a discount for customers who book their tables before a certain date. This creates urgency and encourages early bookings, helping in better event planning.

In-house promotion and cross-promotion

Use table tents, menu inserts, or digital displays to advertise an upcoming "Jazz and Dinner" night to current diners. Cross-promote by partnering with nearby businesses, like a local wine shop, to spread the word about your wine-tasting event in exchange for promoting their business at your venue.

Ready to try out some restaurant event ideas? Learn more about how you can sign up with Eat App to pre-sell events, manage reservations, and improve the post-event customer experience.

Free Restaurant Event Planning Checklist Create a simple checklist for your next event using our free and customizable  template Download Now


What attracts guests to a restaurant? 

A restaurant's menu should be appealing and offer a variety of flavors, dietary alternatives, and unique and marketable items to draw in customers.

Customer service is important to visitors, and they will recall a staff that is polite and informed. However, consider more than just food. Provide special dining experiences, discounts, promos, and loyalty plans.

How can restaurants get more guests?

It's critical to maximize a restaurant's online presence. This comprises a digital marketing campaign and a beautifully designed website with a solid SEO base.

For omnichannel marketing, work with other businesses (such as nearby vineyards or breweries) and influencers. Organic growth is produced by event programming, such as special dinners and live entertainment.

Which marketing techniques are best for advertising a restaurant event?

Restaurant events provide you the chance to promote your business specifically while giving your customers unique experiences. There's also a probability that publications will cover the event, depending on its nature.

When attendees share content on their social media pages, these gatherings can also make them become brand ambassadors.



Director of Marketing at Eat App

For the past 7+ years Ryan has been focused on helping restaurants succeed with digital marketing and front-of-house operations. He is Director Marketing at Eat App.

Reviewed by

Nezar Kadhem

Nezar Kadhem

Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

He is a regular speaker and panelist at industry events, contributing on topics such as digital transformation in the hospitality industry, revenue channel optimization and dine-in experience.

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