10 Low Budget Restaurant Ideas to Help You in Hard Times

Times are tough, especially for the restaurant industry, and I understand that not many restaurateurs can afford to spend a lot of money on marketing right now. That’s why I’m here to suggest some low budget restaurant ideas that will help you market your restaurant to people without spending any (or hardly any) money. Let’s get into it!
10 Low Budget Restaurant Ideas to Help You in Hard Times

Use These 10 Low Budget Restaurant Ideas to Boost Your Profits

1. Be active on all major social media platforms

This is no longer optional if you’re a restaurateur, it’s necessary. You have to be where your customers are, especially now, when we’re communicating mostly online. That said, here are the major social media platforms you should consider being on and how to promote your restaurant on social media.


The OG social network, Facebook still has the biggest following and it provides businesses with plenty of reasons to be active on the platform. The most important one being that you can add a “Start Order” button to your Facebook page for free and redirect users to your restaurant website where they can place an order.

If you’d like to optimize this experience for your customers even further, and make the transition between your Facebook page and your menu seamless, click on the “Sign up” button at the top of this page. Once you’ve set up your profile, we provide you with a Facebook smart link that you can add to Facebook’s “Start Order” button to send customers straight to your online menu.


Twitter is a great platform to increase engagement and brand awareness, as well as a place where you can reply to your customers’ questions and concerns. Twitter users are very supportive of the businesses they follow and that can translate into increased conversions.


Instagram is where photos of food thrive, so you shouldn’t miss it when looking for food product marketing ideas. The platform is all about visual communication, so upload photos of your food that will leave customers drooling.

Plus, you can also sell food through Instagram even if you’re not listed on any food delivery portal using an Instagram action button workaround.


Another visual social media platform, Pinterest is quite advanced in terms of how you can use it to promote your restaurant. You can post your menu, create recipe boards, repin images from other people in the industry, organize giveaways, or even promote your pins for extra engagement.


Targeting a slightly younger audience, Snapchat allows you to interact with customers on a more personal level and send them offers directly into their DMs. One of Snapchat’s highlight for restaurants is the possibility to create a Snapchat Geofilter and choose the location where it will show up. This will help you attract more people to your restaurant.


Finally, a network that is still growing but one that is increasingly popular, especially among Gen Zers, TikTok can help you become viral even if you don’t have a lot of followers thanks to its unique algorithm. It is an opportunity for you to show your lighter side and have fun with your customers.

2. Optimize your Google My Business profile

Google My Business is incredibly useful for any business to have. But it’s not enough to create an account, you have to fill it out entirely to take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer. Your goal should be to rank as high as possible on Google so that more people find your restaurant.

Here are the main things you should do on GMB:

  • Add your opening hours
  • Add your location
  • Upload photos of your food and restaurant
  • Include a link to your website and online ordering page
  • Add your menu
  • Reply to customer reviews

3. Have a sales optimized website

Since all of your social media profiles, as well as your Google My Business page will ultimately redirect customers to your website, it’s important to give them a flawless experience once they get there.

For one, that means a fast path to your online menu. The online ordering button should be visible on the homepage as soon as they land on it. Once they open your online menu, they should be greeted by attractive, eye-catching images and promos.

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4. Activate online ordering

Since we’ve been talking about online menus, you should know accepting orders online is one of the easiest ways to boost profits as a restaurateur. That is, if you know which online ordering system to choose so that it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

I would suggest avoiding food delivery portals like Uber Eats or GrubHub because they charge restaurants hefty sums and you’ll end up barely making a profit. The better alternative is an in-house online ordering system where you keep all the profits and control the customer interaction from beginning to end.

5. Create accounts on review portals

Review portals like TripAdvisor and Yelp are free to sign up for and can bring you new customers just by you filling out your profile. Make sure that essential data such as opening hours and location is the same on every platform and that it coincides with the one on your website.

These portals are also helpful because people tend to use them to leave reviews, so they are a great place to interact with your customers, secure their loyalty, and show newcomers that you treat all your clients with care and respect.

The golden rule on these platforms is to reply to all reviews. Thank positive reviews and invite them to return to your restaurant and try to solve the problems people raise in negative reviews to show you care.

6. Partner up with local businesses

In terms of offline marketing ideas for restaurants, we suggest taking a walk around the neighborhood and seeing what businesses would be willing to partner with you for events and mutual promotion.

For example, you could visit corporate offices and inquire about the possibility of becoming a location for their parties and events. Here are some ideas for restaurant events that you could throw for corporate employees:

  • Food eating competition
  • Bingo evening
  • Karaoke bash
  • Quiz night
  • Hollywood themed party
  • Magic show
  • Open mic night
  • Board game extravaganza
  • Cooking class
  • Make your own meal

Similarly, get in touch with local hotel and Airbnb owners to see whether you could leave some menu flyers in their establishment in case tourists need recommendations of places to eat.

7. Do email marketing

Email marketing is one of those small restaurant business ideas that will never get old. It’s an affordable and reliable way to secure customer loyalty and get new customers without having to go through too much trouble. These are just a couple of restaurant email marketing ideas you can try:

  • Send a welcome email
  • Send a birthday email
  • Celebrate holidays with special promotions
  • Showcase new menu items
  • Promote new features like online ordering
  • Share your recipes
  • Promote events happening at your restaurant


8. Invest in flawless customer service

And by invest, I don’t mean money. This is something that you build in time and that will lead to excellent word-of-mouth marketing. Providing flawless customer service means to pay close attention to every aspect of your business, from the quality of your food to the people you hire, the environment you create, and so on.

Over time, these things will add up and help your restaurant get noticed. People will rave about it to their family and friends, and you will get new customers without paying money or making a conscious effort at that time.

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9. Be creative with your menu

Your menu is your bread and butter so you have to make the most of it to stand out. When designing a menu, you can stand out in many ways, from the ingredients you use to the names you give to the dishes.

Changing your menu periodically or introducing limited-time menu items will also attract more people. Celebrate famous holidays with unique menu items to entice people to visit you. Here are some restaurant food ideas for 3 major holidays:

  • Christmas: Slow roast beef, butternut squash with bay leaves, buttery roasted chestnuts in foil.
  • Halloween: Dead velvet cake, swampgria, grated knuckle pizza.
  • Thanksgiving: Spiced and glazed roast turkey, spicy cranberry sauce, squash and caramelized onion tart.

10. Offer irresistible food promos

You may think this doesn’t belong in the category of low budget restaurant ideas but the truth is you will make more money by charging less from time to time than by never offering a special promo or discount. Brainstorm some food and beverage promotions ideas and showcase them at the top of your menu so they’re the first thing customers see.

From free delivery to discounts on orders that surpass a certain value, to meal bundles for the entire family, there’s no shortage of promos you can use. Remember to also draft some unforgettable restaurant promotion messages for social media to share the news.

Final Words

While you could try traditional restaurant advertising like newspaper or radio ads, and there are also a lot of new restaurant ads you can invest in on social media, you should start with free or almost free marketing until you find your feet as a restaurateur.

These low budget restaurant ideas cost nothing (or next to nothing) to implement, and they are guaranteed to help your restaurant grow and ultimately increase sales.

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