Practical Ecommerce

Quick Query: Restaurants & Email Marketing

Abby Weaver is the marketing director for Fajita Grill (, a small restaurant with locations in Oswego and Fulton, New York, that successfully uses email marketing and its website to boost sales.

PeC: When did Fajita Grill launch its website?

Abby WeaverWeaver: Even before we opened the first restaurant, we had a website. It was just the basics with contact info, and was primarily used for online job applications. We were overwhelmed with responses and didn’t need to run any newspaper advertising.

PeC: How do you promote the restaurant’s website?

Weaver: The website address is included in our email marketing. It is on our menus, fax order forms, table tents — everything.

PeC: Does your email marketing work?

Weaver: I know it’s successful based on the response rate. We have about 300 coupons redeemed each month, a very high response rate for our list size. Compared to direct mail where I had less than half a percent response rate, this is a no-brainer.

PeC: How frequently do you email your specials?

Weaver: I limit my email to once per month, and I have the coupons valid all month. I know nothing about website creation or HTML, but I can fill in the email form, upload my photos and play with the look. Then I hit “send,” and all 1,667 customers receive my specials in their inboxes.

PeC: How did you go about building your email marketing list?

Weaver: We started with emails we collected in store as people signed up for our frequency card. I had 650 email addresses a year ago. I continue to input the new frequent-eater card holders. I also added a box on every page of my website for email promotion sign-up. The email provider I use takes care of the subscribes and unsubscribes from my website, so this part takes no time. It’s amazing how many people sign up from our website, upwards of 10 people per day some days.

PeC: Why should a restaurant have a website or an email marketing plan?

Weaver: Even my 3-year-old daughter has a website. You need a website, even if it’s only one page with your phone, fax and hours of operation. I chose to add my menus, printable fax order forms, photos of our food and the contact us and employment forms. But starting from nothing, I would start with a simple website and collect email addresses in the store and online.

PeC: Do customers really use your website?

Weaver: I have had a few customers unhappy when they left the store who, for some reason, didn’t ask to speak to a manager. They vented to us on the website, and the restaurant’s owners get the emails so they see what a customers said. We can then call the customer and offer a gift certificate or complimentary meal and patch up what might have been a lost customer relationship. That outlet for feedback and our generous response goes a long way in showing customers how much we care.

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  1. Legacy User January 11, 2007 Reply

    Thanks for your insight, Abby. Its interesting to hear how other businesses are taking advantage of the web, and how it is working for them. As a web designer, I also believe (as you mention) that every business should have a website, even if it just has contact information on it.

    — *Brian Getting*

  2. Legacy User January 24, 2007 Reply

    Great article, it's great to see a restaurant taking advantage of such an effective tool. One of the services I offer to my clients in additions to website development is email marketing. It's been hard trying to sell clients on this tool.

    Dean Iodice

    — *Dean*

  3. Legacy User March 26, 2007 Reply

    This was a very rewarding niche market I uncovered in South Florida. I started a small company doing exactly this and built it up to 237 restuarants with more than 2.1 million emails. I no longer work because I sold my company to a New York advertiser that specializes in the food business, Musarella Inc.

    If I can do it, anyone can!

    Keith Houlihan

    — *Keith Houlihan*

  4. stevetamer May 29, 2012 Reply

    Today, online ordering and marketing is no longer a way to stand out in the restaurant business; instead, it is a key you can’t afford to be without. With the progress of information technologies and the attractiveness of internet sales, online takeout ordering is an alternative your restaurant’s customers suppose you to have.

    Use Online Ordering in combination with Promotion and Couponing features, and incorporate with a Loyalty and Email Club modules to perform targeted promotion with special offers all from one fully incorporated solution. These powerful capabilities raise client loyalty, frequency of purchases and total sales.

    For this, You need a system that is reliable, fast, safe, and affordable and gives you the maximum output.

    A good option is Eat online, that offers much easier to use platform than Just Eat and others, at least as I perceive it, and they business seems to be much different. They build platforms for restaurant owners, so that they can offer online ordering on their own websites.