Last month, OpenTable served up the first-ever London West End Restaurant Week, celebrating the West End’s vibrant food scene with special offers at more than 70 of the area’s top restaurants. We talked to two of the participating restaurants — Novikov Restaurant & Bar and Twist at Crawford — to hear their take on the exciting new event.
“It was a very good experience that worked really well for our restaurants,” says Andreina Lignini of Novikov, which has two concepts, one Asian and one Italian. They offered a set lunch menu starting at £21.00 in the Italian restaurant and a Dim Sum menu in the Asian restaurant, starting at £18.00.
Instead of a set menu, Twist offered a free charcuterie platter to share for every table that purchased a bottle of their Madregale Bianco Chardonnay Trebbiano (a white wine) or Tempranillo Vina Mues (a red wine). Twist’s Cristina Frattale tells us that the restaurant decided to participate because of the free marketing opportunity: “We wanted to have more visibility on OpenTable and thought this was the right occasion.”
Here are seven ways the teams made London’s first restaurant week a success — and how other restaurants can, too.
Add value. Instead of discounting any of their menu items, Twist opted to combine a free add-on — the charcuterie platter — with a wine purchase. “The FREE option is always appealing,” says Cristina.
Guide your sales. It’s no accident that at Twist, the bonus item came with wine. Cristina says they wanted their offer to be beneficial for alcohol sales, so the promotion gave diners an extra incentive to order a specific product.
Test something new. Both of the menus Novikov developed for London’s Restaurant Week were brand new — the team used the event to try them out for the first time. “This was a good opportunity for us to launch our set menus,” says Andreina. “The team responded really well.”
Make it easy for staff. On the flip side, an entirely new menu can be daunting for the staff, especially when you’re expecting more covers than usual. “We chose something easy to offer not to make the kitchen or our staff too confused with something extra, on top of our a la carte menu, tapas lunch menu, and changing specials,” says Cristina. “The charcuterie does not need much preparation, and it’s quickly prepared and brought to the table.”
Be clear. Confusion about the specifics of the offer can lead to dissatisfied customers. Cristina says some early guests thought they would automatically receive the free charcuterie platter simply by booking on OpenTable, so she updated the language on the website to be crystal clear. After that, diners were thrilled with the added value.
Prepare for different table sizes. The details of your offer can influence your party sizes and thus your table layout. Twist’s offer was valid for up to three guests, so they booked lots of tables for two. Cristina says the team had to split up tables during the busy service to accommodate all of the two-tops.
Capture a new market. The Mayfair area, where Novikov is located, is very competitive, and Andreina and her team wanted to capture the lunch market with a great deal. All of their guests work in the area, and while some were regulars for dinner many didn’t know they served lunch. And the strategy worked: Novikov saw a lift of 370 lunch covers during restaurant week compared to the same period last year.