Summer is upon us and for many food service businesses it’s the best time of year to make sales.
If you own a coffee shop, the summer months are perfect for changing up the way you do things and trying out new ways to attract customers.
There are lots of ways to bring in more business to your coffee house, including taking full advantage of any outdoor space that’s available to you. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Try These Ideas To Make Your Coffee Shop A Summer Hotspot
Install outdoor seating booths
When people can get outside during warm weather, they want to stay outside. So now’s the time to take advantage of any outdoor space available to you by installing new restaurant booths outside your cafe.
If you don’t have a patio or terrace of some kind that you can fill with outdoor seating, check with your city to see if any of the public space in front of your coffee shop is available to install seating in.
Many cities turn street parking into outdoor seating for restaurants during the summer months. Some places even allow restaurants and bars to put restaurant booths in the street year round now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even if you just have room for one or two booths, that’s at least 6-12 extra seats or so — seats that are more likely to stay full all day long in the summer.
Passing pedestrians are more likely to spontaneously sit down at a coffee shop that has outdoor seating. If you have outdoor booths and your competition across the street doesn’t, you’re bound to be the more popular choice for summertime coffee stops.
Hang outdoor lighting
People tend to think of coffee shops as daytime destinations, but there’s no reason your coffee house can’t be a place to hang out during warm summer evenings, too.
One way to make your coffee shop appealing for nighttime hangouts is to hang trendy outdoor lighting — think market lights.
There’s just something about strings of exposed light bulbs that make a place seem like the place to be at night.
Hold outdoor events
Once you have the outdoor seating taken care of, holding outdoor-focused events is the perfect way to keep the joint jumping all summer long.
You can get as creative as you want with the events you throw. For example, it could be as simple as having weekend brunches with a DJ.
You might also have a weekly coffee tasting lunch, during which customers get to sample different single-origin beans and learn about different methods of preparing coffee.
You can even make these tastings interactive by teaching people how to use different pour-over coffee brewing devices, such as Chemex, V-60, and Aeropress.
Free events are a great way to attract more business. But, if you’re expecting them to fill up fast, they can even be an extra source of income. For instance, you might reserve all your outdoor seating for the events and charge a small fee to reserve each seat.
Here are a few more event ideas for coffee shops:
- Board game afternoons/nights
- Open mics
- Pop-up events with local brands or artists
- Creative workshops (like coffee and painting)
- Latte art competitions
Try new summery iced coffee recipes
People tend to want hot coffee during colder months, but summer is the perfect time to experiment with adding new iced coffee recipes to your menu.
There are endless amounts of iced coffee recipes on the internet that you can consider, but here are a few popular ones to look up and try:
- Cold brew tonic
- Mint mojito iced coffee
- Cold brew float
- Iced dirty chai latte
- Maple iced coffee
If you have a liquor license, you could try out some summery coffee-based cocktail recipes as well.
For example, there’s the “cold fashioned,” which consists of whiskey, coffee liqueur, and bitters served over ice with a twist of orange peel.
Or, you might try serving a cold brew bourbon cocktail, which has cold brew coffee as a base, along with triple sec, maple syrup, bourbon, and heavy cream.
Again, there are countless cold coffee-based beverage recipes you can experiment with to find what people like, so get creative!
Add new food to the menu
Summer is also a great time to add new summery food items to your coffee shop menu.
Peoples’ tastes change with the weather, and they tend to want something lighter and fresher during the summertime.
You could try adding new summer salads, such as a caprese salad or a Mexican chopped salad, to your menu and see how they sell.
Sandwiches that people can grab and take to go for their summertime picnics or other outdoor ideas are a great idea, too. Simple paninis with fresh ingredients and local cheeses and meats are perfect!
Or, if you’re open for business at night, you could experiment with adding some Spanish-style tapas to your offerings. Bonus points if customers can accompany their tapas with beer and wine!
Get active on social media
To maximize your summer marketing efforts, make sure to ramp up your activity on social media, especially Instagram.
If you have new outdoor seating, advertise it on social media stories to make sure people know where to come to sit outside with their friends or dates. Take pictures of your happy customers enjoying the sun and their beverages and post them to your social media.
If you’re going after the nighttime market this summer as well, make sure to get some shots of your evening guests and post them so people know your coffee house is open late.
Whenever you hold events, be sure to advertise them a lot on all your social media channels. Make posts with flyers for them and upload stories talking about them in the days leading up to the events.
As for new iced coffee-based beverages, make sure to take enticing photos of the drinks (preferably outside) and post them to your networks to make your customers’ mouths water.
You could also record your staff preparing the beverages and post reels of the preparations to Instagram and TikTok — with the hottest summer songs in the background, of course.
Coffee is a popular beverage all year long, but summer presents new opportunities to get creative with your coffee house business.
From adding new outdoor restaurant booth seating and holding outdoor events to attract new customers, to changing up your menu, there are all kinds of things you can try to make your coffee shop a summer hit!