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A simple guide to increasing restaurant revenue streams

A simple guide to increasing restaurant revenue streams

minutes read
Published on
September 14, 2023
Last updated on
Aron Lewis
Growth & Marketing Lead
Aron Lewis
A simple guide to increasing restaurant revenue streams
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    Relying on a single revenue stream is a big red flag in the restaurant industry.

    We don’t want to be dramatic, but it’s true. 

    Think about the pandemic as an example. Restaurants that weren’t able to pivot their offerings struggled to stay afloat. It was only those that provided takeout or meal kits as an alternative to dine-in that made it through the other side. 

    By adding more than one stream of income, your restaurant is in a much better position to handle any unexpected challenges in the industry. If one of your streams becomes redundant for any reason, you’ve got other options to rely on. Plus, it helps you boost your income, so it’s a win-win! 

    If you’re wondering how to branch out and incorporate additional revenue streams into your business, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the different revenue streams you can use to boost your income, protect your restaurant from unexpected challenges, and increase your profits. 

    A breakdown of the most popular restaurant revenue streams

    Let’s start by walking through some of the most common alternative restaurant revenue streams. 

    1. Virtual brands 

    A virtual brand is a food provider that operates exclusively online. It allows you to maximise your capacity, reduce food waste, and increase your income by selling more food from your existing kitchen. 

    In other words, it allows you to offer a full menu (separate from your in-house operations) for online customers without the cost of running an in-house dining space.

    Here’s how it works:

    • You offer an online-only menu, complete with a restaurant brand and identity, which is totally separate from your in-house operation. You can work with a franchise partner (like us at Peckwater Brands - hi 👋) to find virtual brands that work with your existing operations and appeal to your local customers. Find out more about what we do
    • Using online-delivery platforms (like Uber Eats, Just Eat, and Deliveroo), you’ll start selling food online. Your menu will reach thousands of local customers without having to spend a penny on more equipment or staff. 
    • Before you know it, you’ll be selling more food, maximising your capacity, reducing your food waste, and boosting your income! 

    For many hospitality businesses, virtual brands are an ideal way to diversify revenue streams.  


    Because you don’t have the overhead cost of running an in-house dining space. You can use everything you already have (including equipment, staff, and premises) to make more money online. 

    Take a look at Atanaska's Mexican Restaurant as an example. Using three of our virtual food brands, the restaurant receives an additional 300+ orders per week.

    Find out more about how to start your own virtual restaurant, or get in touch with us at Peckwater Brands to see how we can help you launch your own virtual brand. 👋

    2. Food delivery services

    Now, we know what you’re thinking.

    How are ‘food delivery services’ different from virtual brands?

    It’s a good question — but there’s a key difference.

    Running a food delivery service involves preparing and selling your in-house food for at-home customers. It’s not a specific menu solely for takeout and delivery options, like a virtual brand.

    Offering takeaway services is a great way to branch into an alternative revenue stream. You can use your existing menu to reach more customers and boost your income.

    Although sometimes this can be tricky if your food isn’t designed for online ordering, or if your menu isn’t designed for an online customer base. If takeout is pretty popular in your area, you might need to update your menu to stand out from the competition.

    🚨 Side note: If you work with Peckwater Brands, we’ll review local customer data to find a menu that appeals to people in your local area! Find out more about how it works.

    To get your food delivery services off the ground, you’d either have your menu on your website for people to place orders, or allow people to order through online ordering platforms.

    Either way, you’ll need to make sure that you can integrate your online ordering with your point-of-sale (POS) system. That way, you can track sales and keep on top of orders — both in-house and online — in a central location.

    3. Meal kits

    Meal kits are pre-portioned (and sometimes pre-prepared) ingredients and recipes for customers to make at home. They became popular during the pandemic, with a lot of people opting to buy the ready-made kits and cook restaurant-quality food in their own kitchens.

    But meal kits (or restaurant boxes) are still pretty popular today — and they’re a great way to broaden your income.

    They’re also a relatively easy way to diversify your revenue. You sell the same ingredients that you already use in-house, and tell guests how to prepare the food in the same way you do at the restaurant.

    When it comes to offering meal kits, here are a couple of things to consider: 

    • Don’t over-complicate it. People ordering meal kits want a simple way to make delicious food. This means keeping things as simple as possible, including pre-portioning your ingredients, labelling items, and recipe instructions. 
    • Think about themes. Creating themes for your meal kits can encourage potential customers to buy them. For example, a date-night meal kit, which includes enough food for two plus a bottle of sparkling wine. 
    A man preparing food on the stove.

    4. Merchandise sales

    Selling restaurant merchandise has become increasingly popular in recent years, and not just for enterprise restaurants. Smaller, independent restaurants are using merch to build relationships with diners, creating a sense of community and loyalty.

    Not only does merch give you another avenue of income, but it also boosts awareness for your restaurant.

    If customers are wearing t-shirts or hats with your logo, chances are that more people will become familiar with your brand. And, simply by seeing someone wearing the t-shirt, they’ll trust that your restaurant is worth visiting.

    Here are some ideas for restaurant merchandise:

    • Clothing. Clothes tend to have a bigger profit margin than a plate of food, so get your logo printed or embroidered on clothing for customers to buy. This could be t-shirts, jumpers, cooking aprons, hats — whatever you think will appeal to your diners. Add your logo, the name of your restaurant, and a funny or catchy slogan to make your merch even more desirable! 
    • Cooking equipment. Branded cookware can be a great way to boost your merchandise sales — especially if it relates to the type of food you sell. Sushi restaurant? Sell a braided yanagiba knife. Wood-fired pizza? Promote a branded pizza peel. Coffee shop or cafe? Stock branded coffee mugs. 
    • Tote bags. In a world where we’re considerably reducing the number of plastic bags we use, tote bags are an ideal alternative. Add your logo and a funky design to your tote bags, and give customers a bag that they’re excited to use. 
    Man walking up stairs wearing a black hoody with a logo on the back.

    5. Catering services for external events

    If you have the staff and resources available, offering catering services opens the door to another stream of income. You already have all the ingredients and recipes ready to go, so you just have to figure out the logistics of serving these items in a new location.

    This might involve preparing and plating food at your restaurant before delivering it to the event venue, or preparing all the food at the venue. You’ll usually discuss the logistics with the event organiser to find the best option for you and the event.

    So what type of external events could you cater for?

    Corporate events and special occasions (like weddings or birthday parties) are a couple of examples. And, if your food can be served from a food truck or mobile serving station, festivals are also a good option — particularly as the profit margins tend to be higher (most vendors will charge a slightly higher rate at festivals). 

    In fact, spending on food and drink at festivals almost doubled between 2008 - 2018, with the average festival-goer spending between £50 and £115.58 per head.

    Something to bear in mind with festivals is that they tend to be seasonal, so you might find more opportunities in the summer months. You should also consider pitch fees, as this will make a dent in your profits from the event. 

    On the whole, most food vendors make a healthy profit from pitching up at festivals — especially if the festival is popular (like Glastonbury, for example).

    Two chefs preparing food for a catering event.

    6. Hosting in-house events

    Hosting special events at your restaurant can be a significant source of additional revenue. When done well, they can bring in a large number of guests, boosting sales and raising awareness in the process.

    It also encourages people to come to your restaurant who might not have otherwise. This means you can showcase your restaurant’s ambience, hospitality, and food to an entirely new audience.

    And if they have a good time, they’re more likely to come back and recommend your restaurant to friends and family.

    Take a look at some examples of in-house events that can diversify your income: 

    • Community events. Build a connection with your community by hosting events for people in your local area. A film night, for example, could be an exciting event for a local community — particularly if you showcase movies from local filmmakers. You can sell tickets for the event, and provide drinks and snacks as part of the experience. It’s a great way to show that you care about the community, which builds loyalty and trust with diners. 
    • Spin-off events. Capitalise on popular events by hosting spin-off events at your restaurant. For example, you could host a viewing party for a sporting event, or a themed event based on a popular music artist who’s currently touring (Taylor Swift comes to mind 🎶). You can design a special menu, encourage people to dress up, and create a fun environment for people to enjoy your food. 
    Man stood in front of a group of people at a restaurant event.

    Which restaurant revenue stream is right for your business? 

    Of all these restaurant revenue streams, how do you know which ones to use? 

    The truth is, it’s totally up to you. It all depends on how much time and resources you can invest, and what works for your business. 

    If you’re just starting to increase your restaurant revenue streams, it’s a good idea to test the waters and see which options work for your restaurant. Start with the one you think best aligns with your restaurant, and see how it goes. If it’s successful, run with it. If it’s not, try another method. 

    If you start to see success, you can then branch out and use a mixture of the above tactics to diversify your income. For example, you might start selling merchandise in your restaurant, but also offer meal kits and food delivery. 

    You should also consider the initial cost of investment and time requirements for launching some of these initiatives. Do you have the time and money to write, publish, and promote a cookbook? If not, you might be better suited to food delivery. 

    Or, you could partner with a delivery franchise partner (like us at Peckwater Brands — howdy 🤠) to launch a virtual brand.

    Two chefs play flighting with rolling pins.

    Launch a virtual brand and watch your profits soar 

    At Peckwater Brands, we make it as easy as possible for you to diversify your income and increase restaurant profitability. 

    We take care of the work behind the scenes, organising all the logistics, marketing, and setting you up on third-party delivery platforms. That way, you can focus on doing what you do best — cooking delicious food. 

    If you want to find out more about a virtual brand, get in touch to get the ball rolling! 

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