Winter Restaurants Prep: How to Add New Revenue Streams

Good news: increasing restaurant sales during the winter months is easier than you think. Take your inspiration from these unique winter revenue streams.

6 min read

Need some advice for winter restaurant prep? From virtual kitchens to retail items to branded merchandise, there are multiple ways restaurants can adapt their business to expand into new revenue streams that increase sales and brand loyalty during the colder months.

Expand into virtual kitchens

Did you know that you might be able to open a second restaurant for the price of one? With technology partners like DoorDash, delivery-only restaurants have been able to operate without the overhead costs associated with dine-in. 

In addition to being a great way to generate business without excessive overhead, virtual kitchens and delivery-only restaurants are especially successful right now. According to a recent report by Technomic, since the beginning of the global pandemic, 77% of consumers have increased their use of third-party delivery platforms. Another 66% of consumers report having used delivery to try a restaurant they would not have otherwise tried. 

Delivery-only restaurants can take a couple of different forms, including ghost kitchens, virtual restaurants, dark kitchens, and virtual brands. For example, ghost kitchens are off-premise locations — like a commercial kitchen shared by multiple businesses — designed to fill a large volume of orders. Ghost kitchens don't have a physical storefront, so orders are delivered directly to customers.

Pursue new revenue streams

In the wake of the pandemic, businesses across many industries have found ways to adjust and adapt to the “new normal,” which includes shifting market conditions, government regulations, and consumer trends. The restaurant industry is no exception. Whether it’s outdoor dining, at-home cooking kits, pre-prepared family meals, or enhanced takeout experiences, restaurateurs everywhere are finding ways to expand into new revenue streams and capitalize on customers’ current needs while taking into account local and state restrictions and, of course, the safety of the larger community. 

Here are a few of the ways you can generate new revenue streams for your restaurant.

1. Convert or modify your business model

While many customers may still be wary of in-restaurant dining, everyone needs to eat. Consider converting any unused indoor space into a bodega or grocery store, leveraging your existing supply chain to sell the ingredients and food items that set your establishment apart — and that your customers already know and love.

You can also decide to offer pantry staples along with your delivery menu, so at-home chefs can get the ingredients they need without having to go to the grocery store. By shifting your business model even temporarily, you can generate more revenue, maintain important supplier relationships, and continue to do what you love: offering your customers the delicious, high quality food they’ve come to expect from you.  

At the Main Street Strong Restaurant Conference, Jill Gray, co-owner of Chicago’s Tortello, told attendees about Tortello’s recent foray into “sagras” — outdoor dining events that are popular in small rural villages in Italy. A recent Tortello sagra was devoted to roasting chestnuts and the tickets sold out in days.

Jill Gray

At ‘sagras’ events, customers were told to BYOB — bring your own blanket. People are really hungry for stuff to do.

Jill Gray

On the same panel, Basu Ratnam, founder of Indian-inspired cafe INDAY, shared that his team had recently experimented with their business model by offering a dinner menu in addition to their regular lunch menu.

2. Look to alternative selling avenues

If you don’t want to open up your own bodega or store but would still like to capitalize on an alternate selling strategy, you may want to consider selling through a third-party convenience store. DoorDash's DashMart is a new type of convenience store that offers everything from everyday essentials to household goods and restaurant favorites. By channeling some of your inventory there, you’re providing customers two different ways to order your food: your own storefront and the local DashMart.

3. Create branded merchandise

Loyal customers are always eager to support their favorite businesses. Selling a collection of branded items — like T-shirts, caps, buttons, stickers, or koozies — is a great way to foster brand loyalty, increase awareness, and generate additional revenue. Just be sure to use social media and/or email communications to let your customers know that merchandise is available for purchase.

4. Launch your own online ordering system 

With mobile and online ordering on the rise, launching your own online ordering system through a service like DoorDash Storefront is a great way to receive and fulfill more orders. The best part? It's always commission free. Storefront allows you to customize the platform so it reflects the look and feel of your brand, which helps to increase brand loyalty. It also connects with your DoorDash Marketplace page so your menu, hours, and payment system are always up to date and in sync. Visit the Storefront page to get started, or sign up to become a merchant partner.

How will your restaurant generate revenue during the winter? 

For more guidance on generating new revenue streams and other ways to prepare your restaurant for the winter months, download the 2021 Merchant Product Guide to learn how to add delivery, pickup, and online ordering to your restaurant for incremental revenue.

Partner with DoorDash and make the most of the winter months. Get started.


Jen Brown

Jen Brown


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