How to Market Your New Restaurant to Locals

Opening a new restaurant is an exciting venture. However, success in the competitive food industry requires more than just delicious cuisine. 

Melba reports that every year, around 50,000 new restaurants open in the US. Unfortunately, not all of these restaurant businesses succeed or manage to survive a long period.

According to the National Restaurant Association, around 60 percent of restaurants fail in their first year of operation. An additional 80 percent of restaurants fail within five years of opening.

To thrive and attract a loyal customer base, you need to master the art of marketing, and this has to start with your local community. Connecting with the community and establishing a strong presence is crucial for your restaurant's growth. 

Here are a few effective strategies to market your new restaurant to locals and create a lasting impression.

Have a Selection of Popular Local Food Options on Your Menu

Ensure your menu boasts a diverse array of popular local food options, catering to varying tastes and preferences. From delectable vegetarian delights to mouthwatering carnivorous classics, offer a selection that tantalizes the senses and leaves every diner satisfied. Craft a culinary journey that showcases your restaurant's versatility and commitment to delivering an exceptional dining experience, especially for locals.

Take the Chicago deep-dish pizza as an example. Almost every pizza place in Chicago serves this style of pizza. That’s because the deep dish has become very popular among the locals. Similarly, your menu, too, must have two or three such local food options that are popular within the community. That way, you can pique the interest of locals and encourage them to give your restaurant a shot. 

Work with Local Influencers and Food Vloggers

Collaborate with local influencers and food vloggers to amplify your restaurant's visibility. Their authentic reviews and engaging content can reach a broader audience, showcasing your delectable dishes and inviting ambiance. 

Invite them for exclusive tastings or behind-the-scenes tours, encouraging them to share their experiences on social media platforms. Leveraging their online presence can spark curiosity and entice locals to explore your culinary offerings. By partnering with influencers and vloggers, you tap into their dedicated followership and create a powerful buzz that translates into an increase in customers.

Use Attractive Signage to Your Advantage

High-quality signs are always a great addition to any restaurant. These signs also act as important marketing tools for popularizing your brand identity locally. Whether you’re looking for small interior signs or large exterior signs, work with a sign company that can provide different styles of signs. These sign companies can help you make custom signs that are bound to appeal to potential customers. 

Eye-catching signage will always attract the attention of people passing by your restaurant. With the right exterior signage, you can get them to at least enter your restaurant. If the interior ambiance suits them as well, including any interior signage, they will surely order a meal or two.

That’s why you have to find the best sign company in town to work with. If you’re not aware of any such companies around you, you can Google for options. Shortlist a few options and visit the Contact Us pages on their websites to reach out to them. You can then discuss in detail with them and settle on a few design deals. 

As for signage inspiration, you can always look around you. You can even consult the sign companies for suggestions. 

Consider restaurants like Cafe Monte French Bakery And Bistro, Pinky's Westside Grill, and McKoy's SmokeHouse and Saloon in Charlotte. They have stunning external signs highlighting the complete vibes of their respective establishments. 

Phoenix Signs mentions how the sign companies in Charlotte, NC, that worked behind these signs sat down with the restaurant owners and talked about the details of the restaurants. Through their discussions, they were able to reach a conclusion regarding the signs.

Host Special Events and Promotions

Hosting special events and promotions is an excellent way to draw locals to your restaurant and create buzz. Consider hosting theme nights, live music performances, or exclusive tasting menus. Collaborate with local musicians, artists, or charities to create memorable experiences that resonate with the community.

If you have any special day or event in your community, take that opportunity to host events and provide promotions. Many locals will frequent your restaurant on those days, seeing that you, too, are celebrating the occasion with them. 

Partner with Local Businesses

Forge partnerships with neighboring businesses to tap into their customer base and enhance your restaurant's visibility. It also helps build strong bonds within the community. In a way, such partnerships show how well-connected your restaurant is to the locals. 

Local partnerships are even more important if you’re serving local food and working with local ingredients. Show your potential customers that you’re dedicated to providing them with the best local dishes using the best local ingredients and other resources. 


According to Zippia, in 2022, the US restaurant industry made $898 billion in sales. Sales were up by $166.5 billion from 2021. This goes to show that the restaurant sector in the US is growing and making decent profits. However, that being said, many restaurants are failing to make it past a single year from their opening. Thus, it’s evident that this business sector is very risky. 

Even then, with the right marketing strategies in place, you can manage to succeed in these waters. It won’t be easy. However, if you can stick to the suggestions mentioned above and appeal to a local consumer base, things will eventually get a lot better.


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