How to Open a Restaurant with Regulars

February 2024

Any restaurant owner will tell you – “regulars” are worth their weight in gold. Building loyalty in guests can be a real challenge, with so many options for them to choose from, but it’s absolutely essential to the long-term health of a restaurant.

That’s why our franchise plan is designed to create restaurants that convert first time visitors into lifelong fans, who will return again and again to enjoy all the things that make Barrel House special.

And, of course, having regulars is one of the best parts of restaurant ownership. It turns each Barrel House into a community hub, where guests make genuine connections with staff members and each other, all while enjoying the great food and drinks that make Barrel House their favorite restaurant in the first place.

Our combination of culture, loyalty programs, community connections, and tasty innovations keeps guests returning to our franchise locations over and over.

We CARE Culture Makes Barrel House a Destination

We CARE Culture is the basis of what we do at Barrel House. It relies on four simple principles:

  • Create a positive experience
  • Attention to guests’ needs
  • Respond appropriately and politely
  • Exceed guest expectations

By focusing on these components of a guest’s experience, we can create an environment that first-time visitors will want to return to again and again.

Creating a Positive Experience

The positive experience is a key factor of We CARE Culture. It’s not enough to simply deliver what the guest ordered – people come to a restaurant not just for convenience, but for the experience. They’re hoping to enjoy a night out with friends, family, or co-workers, or even just treat themselves. By ensuring their visit is fun, friendly, and overall positive, we create a space that guests want to visit again and again.

Attending to Guests’ Needs

Attending to guests is a basic tenet of restaurant service, but We CARE Culture takes it beyond simple service. We ensure staff are trained to anticipate the needs of guests, from extra napkins for finger foods to full drinks on a hot day. Ensuring guests have everything they need drives home the value of a Barrel House visit, and makes us an easy choice next time they’re wondering where to eat.

Responding Appropriately and Politely 

Guests expect friendly service, especially in these post-pandemic days when customer service skills seem like relics of a bygone era. But at Barrel House, we emphasize kindness and conscientiousness as part of our staff training – we’re old fashioned like that.

Exceeding Guests Expectations

The final but most important tenet of We CARE Culture is exceeding guest expectations. Across the board, we’re seeking to give more than “good.” We’re in pursuit of “great” in everything we do, from food quality, to customer service, to wait times, to ambiance, and beyond. By always aiming high, we maintain our standard of excellence in every location.

Combined, the principles of We CARE Culture make each Barrel House location an inviting space for an excellent experience, one guests will want to return to again and again!

The Barrel House App for Returning Guests

While we rely on our We CARE Culture to impress guests, we know that rewarding loyalty goes a long way. That’s why the Barrel House app is designed to help each location turn visitors into regulars by rewarding them for more frequent visits.

Loyalty Rewards

Our app lets guests earn rewards points with each purchase, giving a little something back each time they visit a Barrel House location. These rewards points are an investment in loyal guests that adds value for everyone involved. Members of loyalty programs typically spend 18% more than those outside them – and we’ve seen for ourselves how the users of our app are more likely to return to spend their rewards. (Which, of course, earns them more rewards to spend on their next visit!)

Easy Online Ordering

The Barrel House app also increases the ease of ordering online, making pickup orders a snap for busy guests. By making Barrel House – a locally-owned, community-supporting business – is just as convenient as a drive through or takeout joint, we’re able to make Barrel House a convenient option for guests on-the-go, who may not have time to stop in for a sit-down meal.

Brand Awareness

The app is easy to use and unobtrusive on guests’ phones… But it’s also an amazing piece of marketing. By having an app on guests phones, we know they’ll see the Barrel House brand a couple times a day! Having an app keeps us top-of-mind for our guests, meaning that they’re more likely to consider us next time they’re deciding where to eat.

Strong Community Connections Build Lasting Relationships

We invest time and effort into the communities that Barrel House locations call home on principle – it’s the right thing to do. But any savvy business owner will tell you that giving back to the community has its business benefits as well.

We’ve talked extensively about the many benefits of being connected to your restaurant’s local community. Increased customer loyalty is a big one!

Guests become regulars when they feel connected to a restaurant, and community support is a great way to increase that sense of connection, even between Barrel House visits.

We want to support those who support us – it’s a basic part of the human condition. But that concept works both ways. We support our guests in the community through fundraisers, sponsorships, and events. And in our experience, we’ve found that our support is rewarded with loyal guests who are happy to return, creating a positive cycle that benefits the whole community.

Guests Will Return to See Something New!

There’s a fine line between keeping old favorites around and introducing enough new dishes to keep guests interested, and we like to think we walk it well! Many regulars have a go-to Barrel House order, but the chance to try something new always gives them a great reason to stop by again.

The Latest Trends

For Barrel House, comfort food is the name of the game – as we say, we specialize in Food That Lifts Your Spirits! Comfort food is having a real culinary moment, and we’re always looking to add the next great item to our menu.

We keep a close eye on restaurant trends and love to introduce a new item or two, like Nashville Hot Chicken, when it’s trending. We find that guests are excited to see Barrel House’s take on the dishes they’ve seen all over social media, and it’s a great way to bring folks through the door.

Innovative Drinks

The drink menu is a great place to introduce variety. Our rotating selection of beers on tap usually includes a few local favorites for each location, which means there’s always something new to try!

And we’re constantly trying new mixed drink concepts, from energy drinks to boozy milkshakes and even nonalcoholic cocktail options. We’ve found that, every time we post about a new drink concept, we see plenty of comments tagging friends to plan their next Barrel House trip and try the newest addition to the menu.

Don’t Forget the Classics

Of course, all this innovation is only to a certain extent. We’re Barrel House, our signature pub burgers aren’t going anywhere in the name of chasing trends. Over the years we’ve learned there are a few menu mainstays that are so good, they’ll turn first-time guests into regulars who will come in to order their usual.

It’s Not Just Food

The appeal of something new goes beyond just the menu – we include new technology in this category, as well! Some of our locations are using robots to help waitstaff, and we’ll be honest: It’s attracted some attention!

The novelty of seeing a robot help with food delivery has definitely brought customers through the door – even some that hadn’t visited in a while. We choose our innovations based on how useful they’ll be to our staff and guests, rather than looking for a “buzz” around technology for its own sake. But we have to admit, some of these additions are a fun novelty that guests are excited to see.

Barrel House Turns Guests into Regulars

By combining a great culture, rewarding loyalty, community connections, and new innovations, we’ve created a business model that converts first-time guests into loyal regulars – the lifeblood of any successful restaurant.

If you want to learn more about opening a restaurant that becomes a community staple like Barrel House, reach out to our franchise team! They’ll be happy to help you assess whether Barrel House’s franchise plan is the right fit for you. Give us a call at 563-214-1013, or fill out our easy online form, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have!