Keeping your diner open 24 hours a day is a good claim to fame, and you are sure to have some customers, such as those who work night shifts, who appreciate being able to dine out at odd hours. However, business is almost certain to be slower in the middle of the night than during the day. Here are some ideas for diner owners looking to encourage more customers to come during the evening hours so you can maintain your current staff and grow your restaurant business.
1. Offer breakfast specials late at night.
For some reason, breakfast food is still amazing late at night. You'll have some customers who come to enjoy it before an early morning work shift, and others who stop on their way home. But don't just offer a breakfast menu — offer unique and amazing options. You could offer six different flavors of pancakes or a different flavor of pancakes every night of the week. Or you could offer custom omelettes by allowing each guest to choose their own fillings.
2. Host some entertainment.
Have a local, up-and-coming band come play, or hire a magician to do an act in one corner of the dining room. Is the idea of offering this sort of entertainment late at night strange? Yes it is, and that's why it works. Younger customers will be excited by the novel idea of going out to see a comedian, magician, or band at 2:00 am. You may gain a whole new following among the college crowd if you host events like this regularly. The point is to create a sense of community so your customers see you as a fun, local place to go.
3. Offer unlimited coffee.
If customers know they can come into your diner, order a meal, and then drink as much coffee as they possibly can, your diner is quickly going to become the go-to for coffee lovers. And face it, many people who are awake late at night are coffee lovers. People will stop on their way into work to get their caffeine fix, and you may get some customers on their way to catch early morning flights if you're near an airport. You can also offer unlimited tea and hot chocolate for those who don't drink coffee.
With the tips above, you should be able to develop a reasonable base of late-night customers. Between breakfast options, fun entertainment, and unlimited coffee, you'll have a lot to offer them, and they'll know it. For more ideas, contact local diners like The 5 Point Cafe.