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How to Prepare Your Restaurant for Ramadan: Ideas & Tips

How to Prepare Your Restaurant for Ramadan: Ideas & Tips



March 6, 2024

March 6, 2024

ramadan iftar
ramadan iftar

Ramadan is one of the most festive dining seasons of the year in the Middle East and around the world. Though it’s a holy month of prayer, it’s also known for its delectable desserts, unique beverages, and plentiful dishes.

In Ramadan, dining is reduced to two main meals: Iftar (breaking the fast) at sunset and Sohoor (the pre-fast meal) at night or closer to dawn.

Many restaurants reduce working hours during the month. Many open a few hours before sunset to prepare for the iftar crowd and extend working hours till dawn for Sohoor.  

Although it’s a month of fasting, Ramadan is one of the busiest for restaurants in the Middle East with many being booked several days in advance.

Many restaurants that don’t take bookings year-round make an exception during the holy month, especially for iftar.

In 2021, 60% of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region respondents said they planned to order food “from time to time” during Ramadan. Meanwhile, 48% said they planned to dine out at a restaurant. 

However, this was in 2021 when people were just getting out of COVID. Since then, dining out at restaurants has increased significantly, going back to pre-COVID levels or beyond that.

Keep reading to learn more about food consumption and dining out in Ramadan. Plus, check out our tips and ideas for marketing your restaurant in Ramadan, getting more reservations, and increasing your sales.

Some statistics about F&B in Ramadan

Some statistics about F&B in Ramadan

Before diving into how to prepare your restaurant for Ramadan Iftar and Sohoor, here’s some data about this special month.

Consumer buying habits change during the holy month. In 2022, confectionery and restaurants, including ordering takeout, ranked first and fourth among the top “planned purchases” during Ramadan shopping.

Over 1.6 billion Muslims were fasting during Ramadan in 2020.

Research across select Middle Eastern countries in 2022 showed 21% of all Muslim respondents “planned to order food during Ramadan.” The UAE had the highest percentage of 27% of people planning to order during the holy month. Saudi Arabia came in at a close second with 26%.

In terms of spending, 48% of Muslim respondents said they’ll spend “the same on food during Ramadan” in 2022 compared to the previous year. Only 9% said they’ll spend less on food, while 41% said they’re likely to spend more on food.

Roughly 57% of respondents from Lebanon and 53% from the UAE said they’re likely to spend more on food during Ramadan.

Make your restaurant stand out this Ramadan

Make your restaurant stand out this Ramadan

With Ramadan being a popular dining-out season, it’s important your restaurant stands out during the holy month. 

Here are several ways to create memorable Iftar and Sohoor dining experiences and increase reservations and sales.

Create a Ramadan restaurant setting 

Transforming your interior with oriental restaurant decorations is a great way to stand out. You can make anywhere from small to major changes to your seating areas.

This will help you improve experiences for your guests. It may also prompt them to take photos and share them on social media, offering an opportunity for user-generated content.

Consider using colorful table cloths, different from the one you use regularly, or getting specially-designed napkins with oriental designs.

Adding small Ramadan lanterns to your tables and other settings across your restaurant will give guests a Ramadan feel.

Manage your floor plan for more bookings 

Many people choose to dine out with friends for a Ramadan iftar. This means you’re likely to get bookings for larger groups.

Review your restaurant’s floor plan to accommodate those guest bookings for groups of five or more. This will also come in handy for corporate Iftars and Sohoors.

Create Ramadan menus and dishes 

The month of Ramadan is popular for its unique dishes, desserts, and beverages. Take the opportunity to create limited-time menu items for the month or a full-course menu.

Give guests the option to choose a la carte menu items or a full-course menu per person or for two.

Make sure your full-course meal includes soup, salad, main dish, dessert, a Ramadan beverage, and tea or coffee. After all, when people break their fast, they long for their coffee fix.

Full-course menus give guests the chance to indulge in a full, palate-fulfilling experience. They’re also an opportunity for you, as a restaurant, to create ticketed-options and generate more revenues.

Consider offering your full-course meal option for groups of two, three, and four. This gives your guests a reason to pay more, knowing they’ll share the food and split the bill. This means you get larger groups at your restaurant.

If you’re using SerVme, you can create digital menus with delicious images and clear descriptions to help guests choose what they want for Iftar.

It’s worth mentioning that in 2024 and for a few years to come, Ramadan coincides with the winter season. You can combine the flavors popular during Ramadan with winter foods and beverages.

Simplify Iftar and Sohoor bookings with reservation software

Your guests don’t want to have to hit the road to make a booking and pay a deposit. Or book over the phone only to have to figure out a way to pay the booking fee.

Make it easy for guests to book, pay deposits or pre-authorize payments, and even choose their Iftar menu with restaurant reservation software.

Reservation management software, like SerVme, helps restaurants manage bookings year round from multiple sources, including online, social media, and in-person bookings. 

SerVme’s reservation software also comes with floor planning features, allowing you to accommodate large groups, during Ramadan or any time of the year, easily. It also comes with waitlist, table management, and marketing features, among others. 

Offer free Ramadan desserts or beverages 

If you’re not offering a full-course Ramadan meal, you can either offer your regular a la carte menu or special Ramadan a la carte dishes along with Ramadan desserts or beverages.

If this is your first-time taking reservations for Ramadan or even celebrating Ramadan, consider enticing guests with free Ramadan desserts or beverages.

Be sure to market this offering in advance on social media. Letting guests know how dining at your restaurant works during Ramadan is important so they know what they’re up for.

You can offer a free dessert or beverage for checks above a certain threshold. Checks over AED 500 get a free dessert sampler or two Ramadan drinks, for example.

Create a give-back campaign 

Ramadan is known as the month of giving. Create a ‘giving-back’ campaign and let your guests know about it and contribute to it (if they wish).

You can do so by organizing a donation to a local NGO, offering food to orphanages during iftar, sharing meals with the needy in impoverished areas, among others.

Your give-back campaign can be a way to reduce food waste in your restaurant. Donate leftover food that remains intact to local NGOs to support those in need.

Make sure guests know about this campaign through social media or ahead of paying the bill and see if they’d like to make a donation to your cause.

At the end of each week, or at the end of Ramadan, announce on social media the results of this campaign. How much food you donated (number of plates or meals), how much money you donated to one or more NGOs,…etc.

Be sure to thank your guests for taking part in your campaign.

Tips for preparing your restaurant for Ramadan

Tips for preparing your restaurant for Ramadan

The above were tips for standing out. But you can’t stand out if guests don’t know you have Ramadan plans.

Make sure your restaurant is part of your customers’ Ramadan plans by getting the word out before the holy month.

Follow these tips to make the most of this festive season of delicious delicacies.

Determine your Ramadan restaurant opening hours 

Ramadan is a time of mixed dining hours for restaurants. So, you need to inform guests about your opening and closing hours along with how reservations for Ramadan work.

Do guests need to book 2 days in advance? 5 days in advance?

Do guests need to pay a deposit to book? If yes, how much?

Is there a no-show policy? 

Prepare your special Ramadan digital menu 

The next step is for restaurants offering special Ramadan dishes, desserts, and/or beverages. It’s time to create your special Ramadan digital menu.

If you’re offering your regular a la carte menu, you can create a smaller digital menu for desserts and beverages.

If you’re using SerVme, you can design your digital menu directly from your SerVme dashboard. Add images for your dishes, prices, descriptions, and more.

Activate the menu to appear between 11 March and 9 April 2024.

Create a social media marketing campaign 

It’s time to prepare your restaurant’s social media marketing to reflect your upcoming special events and Ramadan dishes and menus.

Create campaigns across your top channels to not only inform guests about your special Ramadan dishes, but also get reservations.

If you’re using SerVme, you can get reservations directly from platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Offer early bookings to regulars 

Set your top-spenders and regulars apart by giving them early access to bookings.

If you’re not offering any free or discounted beverages or desserts, consider doing so for your loyal, regular guests.

You can do this with a special email campaign, using the auto-tagging feature in SerVme.

Collect online deposits and fees 

Last but certainly not least, preparing your restaurant for Ramadan means you should prepare to collect booking deposits or reservation fees. 

If you’re using SerVme’s reservation and table management software, you can do so easily. Guests can make an online booking and pay the deposit with their credit or debit card. 

After they arrive and it’s time to pay the bill, they’ll see the deposit deducted from their bill.

Send a special newsletter 

Running a restaurant newsletter is a great way to keep guests informed of special events, offers, and delectable limited-time menus. Including your Ramadan offering.

Newsletters are great for adding lots of info and not clogging your customers’ inboxes.

If you’re using SerVme, you can create your newsletter from SerVme’s marketing platform. Use your restaurant CRM to segment guests and create tags (and auto-tags) and send the newsletter to those segments.

Bonus tip: Use a catchy email subject line that summarizes the content of your newsletter and gets people to click.

Include your reservation widget so guests can choose the date they’d like to book early and the number of people they’re reserving for.

Further reading: The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Restaurants

Inform guests about booking regulations 

As mentioned, Ramadan is popular with friends getting together to dine out. It’s also popular for companies to hold corporate Iftars and Sohoors.

Make sure your guests, individuals, groups, or corporates, know how to book and the booking fees involved.

Add your reservation, cancellation, and no-show policies and fees on your online reservation widget. Ramadan is a busy time and you don’t want to lose revenue on no-shows.

Bonus tip: Grab your reservation, cancellation, and no-show policy templates here.

Create an email marketing campaign 

Besides sending out your newsletter, consider creating a Ramadan email campaign.

You can segment guests based on those who dined at your restaurant last year during Ramadan, along with other guests who have been visiting our restaurant regularly.

If you’re using SerVme, you can use the UTM link feature for better analytics and tracking. The UTM feature will give you insight about which guests, or guest segments, clicked the reservation link more, when, and from which locations.

Use the data from this campaign to create more follow-up campaigns, send special offers, or for the coming years.

Further reading: 10+ Restaurant Email Marketing Campaign Ideas for Better Sales & Retention

Create an SMS campaign 

Not all guests respond to emails. Depending on your guests and their behavior, consider creating an SMS campaign for Ramadan. Inform guests that you’re taking bookings and what they can expect.

Use SerVme’s marketing automation platform to personalize and send SMS marketing campaigns to your guests. Include a clickable link so guests can start booking early on.

Further reading: A Quick Introduction to Restaurant Marketing Automation For F&B

Wrapping it up

Wrapping it up

Ramadan is a time of fasting, friends and family, food, and prayer. As an F&B concept, you can fulfill your guests’ hungry palettes and give them memorable dining experiences with their friends and families.

The most important thing with Ramadan, as with any other seasonal event, is to start preparing early.

We’re about 2 weeks away from Ramadan, so it’s time to get on your reservation software

If you’re not using reservation and table management software, sign up to SerVme today. We’ll help you make planning for Ramadan and other dining events easier and faster.

Using SerVme, you can create your online reservation widget, accept deposits and prepayments, manage online and offline waitlists, and create email and SMS marketing campaigns, and much more!

Sign up to SerVme to get started.

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Posted by:

Nada Sobhi