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Running a Restaurant/increasing customer base


About a year ago I opened a restaurant in a small community of about fifteen thousand. However, there are about one hundred-thousand potential customers within a short driving distance. The restaurant is housed in a one hundred-year old building that has been restored to its original design. We continue to get complements on the physical plant. Our menu ranges from some comfort foods to top quality steaks and sea food at competitive pricing. We also serve wine and beer.

We do quite well with an older age group (from fifty and up). But business has leveled off. My questions are:
•How can we appeal to the younger and maybe a more affluent age group and not lose the older more reliable customers?
•A liquor license is available and we could, with some changes, have room for a bar and TV area?
•With food and labor cost skyrocketing how can I increase menu prices without losing customers?
•Any general suggestions on increasing business?
•Your suggestions and opinion will be a great help.
Thank you

It sounds as if you have done quite well in a short period of time. My thoughts on your current dilemma are below.

First, adding a full service bar to draw a younger crowd may work, but you need to make certain the demographic age group you are trying to reach is within a very short driving distance. With today's liquor laws, people don't venture as far when consuming alcohol.

Price increases are a part of the business. Raise them slowly and frequently in small amounts. Customers see increases is all aspects of their lives. They won't be shocked at your moderate increases. They see higher prices at the gas pump, grocery store and shopping center.

One of the best ways to increase business is to work with the existing customer base. Increase their frequency of visits through nightly promotions or loyalty cards. Offer special incentives if they bring a guest that has never visited before. Ask guests if they have business or social groups they belong to that could be a source of emails or social media. Involve yourself in charitable local groups or events. Add party trays, catering or prepared foods to go.

A liquor license may be a business booster and add a great profit center, but make sure your investment is justified by through careful market study in a small rural area.

Running a Restaurant

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Larry Edger


Multi concept restaurant owner. Just finished fourth restaurant. Can answer questions on all aspects of running, owning and starting a restaurant, cafe or hospitality operation. Enjoy helping other restaurant owners. Most "consultants" have no idea what a restaurant operator needs to be successful. Let me know if I can assist you finding answers to your operating and marketing questions. Accomplished chef and menu development a particular talent for upscale casual restaurants.


Owner and operator of several multi-concept restaurants. Successful entrepreneur, started businesses from scratch on many occasions. Know the problems with planning and running a restaurant. Always independent operations and not the product of chain restaurants.

As an author of The Restaurant Ebook, A Guide to Keeping Your Dream Off the Chopping Block, I have helped hundreds of restaurateurs to market and run a better restaurant.For more information visit or

Attended Ohio State University and have gone through many extended classes relating to marketing and management. Written many courses and training manuals.
Currently building fourth restaurant and created a blog to keep track of daily activities. Readers can see the various steps from leasing to opening. Visit

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