20 Restaurant Contest Ideas To Make Your Customers Happy

20 Restaurant Contest Ideas To Make Your Customers Happy

Muhammad Abdullah

It’s always fun to win free stuff, isn’t it?

Restaurant giveaways ideas or contests are amusing and make customers happy! They create excitement among the customers as they aim to win a prize.

Restaurateurs can attain more visibility and attract new customers via restaurant giveaways ideas or contests. It is one of the best ways to drive local business for your restaurant and get more people through the door.

Social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, have made it so much easier to organize these contests. Now, anyone running a business page on their socials can effortlessly host various contests. Some of the most popular restaurant contest ideas you will get to know in this blog.

But, before we get started, we’d like to briefly highlight the importance of restaurant contest ideas for a business.

Why Restaurant Giveaways Ideas & Contests Matter

Restaurant giveaways ideas and contests are exciting and engaging, and encourage the customers to buy your products. They have ample benefits for your restaurant business. They help you:

· Gain more visibility

When you’re just opening an eating house, you need to rocket your number of social media followers quickly to reach a larger audience. For this, you can organize contests and come up with restaurant giveaways ideas for sharing a post.

· Win new customers

After entering your contest, visitors will go through your website, menu, and social media. You can optimize them with tantalizing photos and compelling descriptions to encourage people to order your mouth-watering food.

· Jack up customer engagement

Regular restaurant contests help you engage more customers with your page by allowing them to like, comment, tag, and share. Moreover, you can collect the email addresses of those who enter your giveaway. As a result, it will aid you in cultivating your relationship with these users and over time, your customer base will grow.

What Prizes You Can Offer

There are a variety of prizes or rewards you can offer to your customers. They include a gift card, promo, discount voucher, free dessert, meal or dinner for two, birthday celebration, try the latest product, and so forth. Besides, you can offer them a loyalty program, loyalty points, a BTS restaurant tour, a cooking class, a restaurant recipe book, or branded merchandise.    

20 Restaurant Contest Ideas to Make Your Customers Happy

Below are the top 20 restaurant contest ideas that’ll delight your customers and keep them returning for more. On top, they’ll help you get a boost in your restaurant sales and promote your restaurant markedly:

1. Like, Follow, & Tag

Get your brand in front of as many eyes as possible. Ask your audience to like, follow, and tag as many as they can in the comments to get a chance to win a prize. The prize could be a free entrée, gift card, or another deal that is sweet enough to incentivize participation.

This kind of competition has become a must-do activity nowadays. It helps you easily gain followers, who then convert into paying customers.

2. Tag a Friend

Here's an idea for an Instagram contest: Post a picture of your food with the rules in the description and ask your customers to tag their friends they’d like to share a meal within the photo. Whoever gets the most likes on the post wins a free meal for two! This will create a snowball effect, helping your promotion seen by more potential customers.

3. Share a Post

Promote your restaurant by posting tempting images of your dishes. Ask your Instagram or Facebook followers to share your post from your business page to their social profiles. Offer them a chance to win an all-inclusive meal at your restaurant or a gift card, as it encourages people to try restaurants they’ve never dined at before. This kind of competition can boost the engagement of people reading your post to thousands!

4. Caption This Photo

Everybody likes to have contests that are fun! Caption contests are one of them; and they get your audience’s creativity flowing. This contest may involve funny events, kitchen fails, or your restaurant’s BTS pictures.

All you have to do is post a photo and ask people to comment ontheir best caption. The post should be eye-catching or humorous to elicit the best responses and includes your branding. Also, you can ask users to turn a photo into a meme for a prize giveaway.

5. Name a Dish

Get creative names for your new menu item! Once you launch your new menu dish, post its photo without any details and ask people to suggest innovative names for a specific dish. You should engage with as many answers as possible, then choose a winner arbitrarily. You may offer them free gifts, meals, or giveaways.

On top of that, customers on seeing their suggested name on the menu will feel much appreciated. They will participate in such competitions again and discuss them with their friends and family.

6. Guess a New Item

Using a professionally taken photo of your new menu item without a detailed description generates buzz around it. You can even play a "guess the ingredients" sort of game with your audience and gift a restaurant recipe book to the winner.

This restaurant giveaway idea is appealing because people like getting cookbooks. Not only because they can cook quality meals at home but also because they're easy to flip through and there's a lot to learn.

7. Choose Next Week’s Dessert

What's for dessert at local restaurants and cafes is always a hot topic of discussion. But you can let your customers decide. Open a poll and allow people to submit their ideas for your desserts. Then open it up to voting. The winning dessert gets featured, and the person who proposed the idea gets to try it for free.

8. Take Knowledge Quizzes

Make quality time with your brand fun and test your customer’s food awareness with a quiz. Having quizzes increases people’s online interaction with your brand as they spend more time on your site. It increases the likelihood they’ll remember you the next time they crave something to eat.

You can make it as informative or fun as you wish. Educate folks on food safety, culinary techniques, facts about your restaurant, and so on!

9. Cook With Us

Invite your guests to try cooking a popular dish from your menu at home by sharing a simple recipe. Select one winner from the ones that post a photo with their finished dish.

You can spark excitement and draw attention and interest to your restaurant. For that, offer a private, complimentary cooking class in front of your co-workers, friends, and family! That's an easy way to create a unique VIP experience for the winner.

10.Vote to Enter

Crowdsourcing contests are one of the best ways to increase customer buy-in. You can make your customers feel like a part of the team by asking them what their favorite recipes are. Maybe you’d like to know which recipes they want to see added. In fact, you can even ask people for their opinions on new furniture or your restaurant’s logo. Those who share their thoughts can enter a drawing for a gift card or branded merchandise in exchange for the opinion they provide.

11.Claim Your Birthday Gift

On the name day of your customers, offer them “claim your birthday gift”. Just ask them to show up at your food house, show you their IDs to verify it’s really their day, and then give them a free dessert.

Since they’ll already be there, the prize should be something like a dessert or an appetizer to entice them to purchase a meal.

12.Become Customer of the Month

For a business’s success, custome retention is vital. Therefore, a business must not only encourage but also reward its loyal or regular customers. By tracking sales, you can identify the customer who ordered the most during a month or a certain period of time. Accordingly, offer them to eat their favorite food for a full day at your restaurant. Additionally, post their picture to make them feel valued and recognized.

This recognition will attract more audience to your restaurant, indirectly boosting its sales.

13.Post Your Order Picture

It is an easy-to-execute restaurant contest idea that prompts people to share pictures of their food or themselves eating at your restaurant. Make a hashtag and give people one week to upload photos of what they had at or ordered online from your restaurant using that hashtag.

This strategy is great because it motivates people ordering a takeaway or dining at your restaurant to post their photos on your wall or Instagram account in return for a chance to win something.

14.Submit a Video

Similar to a photo contest, a video contest can be entertaining. Ask people to share videos of themselves cooking one of your most popular recipes using a hashtag. But it would be best if you come up with unique restaurant giveaways ideas to get more people to participate. For example, the prize could be a 3-hr cooking class with your chef.

Besides being fun, video contests give you loads of user-generated content (UGC). You can even ask your guests restaurant survey questions to gain valuable insight.

15.Share Your Experience

Engage your customers in the branding process of your restaurant. Ask them to post about their favorite memory or experience at or with your eatery house on social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. For this, offer them a chance to win a free dessert of their own choice for every new order for a month. 

16.Celebrate a Loved One

Raise awareness of your restaurant and motivate people to share their love for their old mom. For example, on Mother's Day, your restaurant could host a contest where customers merge with followers on Facebook, Twitter, or other socials to share a memory they have with their mom. The participant who generates the most "likes" wins a free dinner for two at your restaurant.

17.Invite People to the App

In addition, you can ask the audience to download your app, encouraging them to understand how easy it is to order their food online. Plus, offer them a discounted voucher upon inviting or sharing your online ordering system for restaurants with other people. This way, they’ll feel happy about getting rewards, and you’ll reach a larger audience.

18.Wear a Jersey

Another inspiring restaurant contest idea is offering free wings or French fries on events like Valentine’s Day or sporting events like Superbowl Sunday by asking people to wear jerseys. Offer free tastings and beverages at discounted prices if guests decide to purchase.

At these events, people may bring their friends, thus improving conversions on your restaurant’s contest page and driving your sales.

19.Leave a Review

Before selecting a restaurant to eat, people check its reviews and ratings. So, to appear trustworthy and attract new guests to your restaurant, you need lots of positive ones. And for that, you should ask your customers to leave glowing reviews on your restaurant’s page by leveraging a great prize.

20.Donate Some Money

Restaurant giveaways ideas that foster community involvement are ideal for the holiday season. For instance, when you serve Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, make a pledge to aid a charity of your choice. And ask your customers to do the same by spending an extra $5 at your restaurant. Those who do will be entered in the contest to win a free meal for two at your restaurant.

Closing Thoughts

Contests with attractive restaurant giveaways ideas are a great way to make customers happy. They are usually cost-effective and easy to participate in. They help you build hype around the brand, improve restaurant customer experience, skyrocket engagement, and captivate a larger audience, ultimately escalating sales and profits. You can implement as many restaurant competition ideas as you can.

But remember that the key to a perfect restaurant contest idea is ensuring it resonates with your audience. Spend time analyzing their lifestyle, what they're looking for, and what they feel passionate about. That will help you craft an outside-the-box product or service that will stand the test of time in this competitive market!



  1. What types of contests can a restaurant hold?

A restaurant can hold various contests which may ask you to caption a photo, name a dish, guess a new item, post a picture, like and follow a page, tag a friend, share a post, post a memory, leave a review, donate some money, share an online order picture, wear a jersey, finish a game, submit a video, vote to enter, take a quiz, etc.

  1. How can a restaurant decide on a prize for their contest?

A restaurant can decide on a prize for their contest on the basis of their budget, contest type (e.g., for a cooking contest, any kitchen supply could be the appropriate prize), target audience, restaurant’s branding and image (e.g., for a restaurant that focuses on providing healthy foods, any fitness or nutrition-related prize would be a perfect fit), value, and uniqueness.

  1. How can a restaurant promote their contest?

A restaurant can promote their contest by running ads on social media (such as Facebook and Instagram), partnering with a social media influencer, advertising on in-store materials (like receipts and post signage), attending big community events where it can spread the word about its business, posting a new update, adding a website popup, and updating its Instagram bio and Facebook cover photos with its contest content.

  1. Can contests be used to build brand loyalty?

Yes, with a well-crafted contest marketing campaign, you can leave a lasting impression on the public, drive brand awareness among your potential customers and strengthen the loyalty of existing customers.

  1. How can a restaurant measure the success of their contest?

A restaurant can measure the success of their contest by analyzing the number of people who participated, the level of engagement generated by people via social media post likes, comments and shares, sales before and after the contest, new customers who participated and visited the restaurant, and feedback through social media comments, surveys, or in-person feedback.

  1. How often should a restaurant hold contests?

It depends on the type of contest, target audience, and overall marketing strategy. However, holding contests once every few months may be a good idea.


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