Customer purchasing food from Icebox Café's vending machine.
Florida-based Icebox Café last year rolled out Icebox Pantry, a vending machine that offers handmade, chef-driven meals from the Icebox Café’s culinary team. — Icebox Café

Restaurant businesses offer three tips to generate new revenue streams:

  • Take cues from food trends, like the uptick in healthy eating post-COVID.
  • Follow your customers’ lead for new business ideas, such as requests to hold parties at your venue.
  • Consider adding a convenience element to your dining options, like vending machines that dispense simple menu items for the return-to-office crowd.

Restaurants are still recovering from the pandemic. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, more than half of restaurant operators said it would be a year or more before business conditions return to normal. One bright spot: Consumers' pent-up demand for restaurant services remains high. Savvy restaurant owners are capitalizing on this appetite and coming up with creative ways to bring in business.

We have one to two doggy parties every week. Pets add roughly 20% to 30% to the bill. A party with five doggies can generate $200 to $300 or more in extra revenues.

Dmitri Chekaldin, co-owner, Dacha Beer Garden

Icebox Café: Vending machines bring in add-on sales

The Icebox Café, which has restaurants in Miami Beach and Hallandale Beach, last year rolled out Icebox Pantry, a vending machine that offers handmade, chef-driven meals from the Icebox Café’s culinary team. Options include salads, noodle bowls, snacks, and desserts. There are vending machines in more than 20 locations in Miami-Dade and Broward.

It’s been great for business, Robert Siegmann, owner and founder of Icebox Café, told CO—. “Interest in our fresh, healthy food vending systems has increased dramatically.” Inquiries and requests have increased over 50% since the beginning of the year, as businesses are looking for healthier options that are accessible 24/7, he said.

And with the return of employees to the office, vending machine inquiries and deployments have increased two-fold. “We have dozens of machines on order to accommodate existing customers and prospective ones, as well,” said Siegmann.

In addition, the Hallandale Beach location, a community hub for food and creativity, recently amped up programming to bring diners back into the physical space, including live entertainment almost nightly, ranging from comedians and local musicians at brunch and DJs.

[Read: Delivery-Only Model Drives Newfound Business for Restaurant Brands]

 Customer with their dog at Dacha Beer Garden, sitting at a table with drinks.
Washington, D.C.-based Dacha Beer Garden recently started offering birthday parties for customers' dogs, which helped generate new revenues. — Dacha Beer Garden

Dacha Beer Garden: Doggie parties add 20% to 30% to the bill

Dacha Beer Garden has two locations in Washington, D.C., both have ample outdoor seating, are dog friendly, and are go-to destinations for celebrations. Recently, customers started requesting birthday parties for their dogs. Co-owner Dmitri Chekaldin says the idea was a good fit. “We began making room for the parties and serving ‘puppacinos’ to all the dogs attending. The idea caught on.”

The dog parties have brought Dacha Garden newfound sales. “During COVID when our capacity and revenues were cut by half by restrictions, this helped,” Chekaldin said. “We have one to two doggy parties every week. Pets add roughly 20% to 30% to the bill. A party with five doggies can generate $200 to $300 or more in extra revenues.”

He added: “To say that dogs do not own Dacha Beer Garden would be a huge fallacy. They do! They get petted and get snacks, goodies, and doggy beers!”

 Customer wearing Mardi Gras beads and holding the BBQ Sundae from Water Pig BBQ.
Florida-based Water Pig BBQ began consolidating an entire BBQ meal plate into a large, easy-to-carry plastic cup named the "Water Pig BBQ Sundae," which has BBQ sales. — Water Pig BBQ

Water Pig BBQ: A creative new takeout menu item brings in unexpected sales

During the pandemic, many restaurants shifted to takeout orders. Water Pig BBQ in Pensacola Beach pivoted by consolidating an entire BBQ meal plate into a large, easy-to-carry plastic cup they named the "Water Pig BBQ Sundae." The BBQ Sundae was such a hit at the recent Mardi Gras Parade that it accounted for nearly 50% of all BBQ sales. The BBQ Sundae will be added to the seasonal menu this summer.

Says Manuel Rodriguez, director of food and beverage, “It’s the perfect lunch for those who would rather grab their BBQ to-go and enjoy more time on the beach.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners’ stories.

To stay on top of all the news impacting your small business, go here for all of our latest small business news and updates.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Finalists Announced for the 2022 Dream Big Awards!

The finalists for the 2022 Dream Big Awards have been announced! Click here to register to watch the Dream Big Awards Ceremony, part of the CO— Start. Run. Grow. Week virtual event, on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at 6:30pm ET, where the winners will be announced!



Published April 13, 2022