What We Can Learn from Successful Local Restaurants

If there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s this: local restaurants rule. From their warm and friendly atmospheres to their unique and savory eats, these one-of-a-kind venues are part of the vibrancy that gives each city across Canada, and the world, their heart and soul.

The phrase “buy local” may be over-used, but seriously, only good things happen when you spend money at homegrown businesses. Unfortunately, local spots are always in contest with large chain establishments and it can be daunting for entrepreneurs to secure their business as a booming hot-spot for dining.

But prospering in these competitive markets is something that many local eateries have done, and for that matter, done well. Restaurants Canada’s report The Discerning Diner: What Canadians want from their foodservice experience is filled with pages of useful data for businesses in the industry to learn how they can improve their interactions with patrons, and continue to grow and thrive in the food world. Here are examples of three local Canadian restaurant leaders that have each mastered a particular “Top 10 Take-Away” from this report and what we can learn from their success (hint: they all sell electronic gift cards).  

Name: Piano Piano  
Location:Toronto, Ontario
Take-Away Mastered: Have a Signature Item

Piano Piano is an eye-catching restaurant (check out the building’s stunning floral murals) in the heart of Toronto’s University neighbourhood. It opened its doors in October of 2015 after its current owner made the tough decision to close previous and iconic restaurant, Splendido.

Piano Piano provides their guests with wonderfully specific items that are all crafted with a Canadian-Italian flair: think delicious pizzas crisped in a wood-burning oven. Restaurants Canada’s report states that “70% of Canadians love going to restaurants, compared to 58% who love going to grocery stores.” Piano Piano has nailed this desire amongst consumers—and they have experienced an even further increase in sales by tapping into an alternative revenue stream: e-gift cards. Being open 24/7 via their website allows this local Toronto hot spot to successfully compete with conglomerate franchisees, and as a result, grow and maintain their customer base. Plus, their employees love that they don’t have to worry about processing manual cards and can get back to what they’re passionate about—great food and great customer service!

Name: Lakeshore Restaurant
Location: Regina, Saskatchewan
Take-Away Mastered: Word of Mouth is King

The Lakeshore Restaurant in Regina is a quaint steakhouse and cocktail lounge that has proudly stood the test of time in Saskatchewan’s capital for over 40 years. This fine dining establishment has remained in the city’s South-end since the 1970s, and is known for serving succulent staple foods while offering a warm ambiance that is both cozy and upscale-romantic.

According to Restaurants Canada’s report, 40% of Canadians “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that “restaurants allow me to spend more time with my family”. And that’s exactly what this restaurant offers: a welcoming environment for people to come together with the ones they love. The Lakeshore has also managed to stay relevant by selling e-gift cards. This restaurant is able to stay at the top of their patrons’ minds by going online, and now consumers can gift this Regina favourite anytime, no matter where they are, ensuring that the Lakeshore continues to see both new and frequent guests time and again.

Name: Rasa
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Take-Away Mastered: Update Your Website

Toronto’s The Food Dudes have done it again! Their restaurant Rasa is a relatively new local venue also located in the city’s University neighbourhood. Rasa serves an array of appetizing menu items that have been inspired from foods around the globe, and you can always count on the accompaniment of an exceptionally refreshing drink!

Besides keeping their customers happy with great tastes, Rasa is also doing something else very right: they are whiz’s with technology. Stats from Restaurants Canada’s report show that three quarters of consumers have been to a restaurant’s website within the last year, and 64% of consumers are looking to browse menus digitally. One look at Rasa’s online presence and it’s clear why they’re experts in this area: their website is bright, modern and visually appealing. It’s no wonder they’ve got on board with e-gift cards to further show that they are one tech savvy business. Rasa has supplemented their physical gift card program with an online component, and their customers love sending and receiving e-gift cards via Facebook, text and email. There’s even the option to design the look of the card and schedule its delivery date! If you’re ready to step up your tech game, Rasa is definitely an example to follow!

Wondering what the benefits of e-gift cards could be for your business? Check out www.anycard.ca to learn more.

Written by Alexa Taylor, AnyCard Marketing Coordinator