Mar 8, 2024 5 min read

BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS: International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York

The International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York just concluded in New York City. For me, and a lot of others, this show kicks off the trade show season helping us all kick off the dust and get back into learning, networking and expansion mode.
BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS: International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York
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The International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York just concluded in New York City.

They describe it as "The International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York is the once-a-year event that focuses on serving the foodservice industry in the Northeast. We offer you the opportunity to see the best in the restaurant and food service industry. From the newest food trends to the best in technology to fit your restaurant and everything in between. This is your opportunity to find the latest and greatest for your operation."

For me, and a lot of others, this show kicks off the trade show season helping us all kick off the dust and get back into learning, networking and expansion mode. It's also a great chance to connect with colleagues and partners in person who we haven't seen in awhile. The education sessions at IRFS are well rounded and helpful.

The show is packed full of independent restaurant operators and growing multi unit brands who are trying to figure out how to improve their business. Those are my kind of people! Whereas I would normally share my post show takeaways, I'm going to share some of the most common marketing questions I was asked as well as some of my best tactics around them.



Independent restaurants are putting a lot of focus and have a lot of questions about social media. Makes sense. There are a lot of stories out there about restaurants that went viral.

Here's the thing ... no one follows a restaurant unless they have already eaten there. That means what Instagram "followers" are what we call "guests." Which means that social media is a retention channel.  Quite frankly, its not a good one either considering that it takes a lot of time to create quality content on a consistent basis to have it to only shown to 1% of our followers.

What to do:

  1. Make sure your content aligns to the guest experience so that when a potential new guest ends up on your social media, they get an idea of what its like to be a guest.
  2. Post IN FEED every other day. Do a mix of videos and carousels. On the opposite days post to your stories and make sure every story has a sticker

I didn't create that plan. We were told that from someone at Instagram.


All restaurants, especially independents are struggling to make it work with third party. It doesn't have to be a necessary evil. You can learn from what they do and how they do it so you can do it on your own.

Less than 10% of our orders at Handcraft Burgers & Brew come from Third Party. Here's our playbook

  1. Remove ANY links on your website or mentions on social media of third party companies.
  2. Throw away discount cards given to you by third party to put in your store.
  3. Raise your prices by 20-30% on third party.
  4. Only put your greatest hits on third party.  Save all your speciality items for order directly only.
  5. Make sure the "ORDER NOW" button on your website is BIG, OBVIOUS, CAN'T BE MISSED and on EVERY PAGE.
  6. Spend $5 a day on Google search ads. Make sure you use your brand name, your menu items and category in your keywords.
  7. Spend $5 a day on Meta (Facebook / Instagram) AWARENESS ads. Use a radius that matches your delivery zone and has broad but specific interest targeting. Your creative should be about your most popular item / the item you are known for. The ad copy should be something that makes sense for a lot of people. Example: at Handcraft Burgers & Brew our top performing ad is "best burgers and fries near Bryant Park and Times Square." If that's what you want, the ad works.
  8. Use a bag stuffer that offers them $10 off (or buy one get one free) on their next order when they order direct. Put a QR code on that bag stuffer that sends them to a landing page where they add their name and email. Automate an email to them a couple days later reminding them to order.
  9. Send weekly emails to your guests and make sure they have calls to action and links to your online ordering.
  10. If you are in NYC or greater North Jersey check out Baboo: Commission free online ordering restaurant market place that is powered by for independent restaurants only in greater North Jersey. Think Uber Eats but no commissions for you and no hidden fees for your guests.

Do that and you'll increase online orders to your direct ordering.


Restaurants want to know how to get more new guests? They want to know how to manage reviews? They need to know how to make more people find them in search.

The Google Small Business team has launched a TON of new features in Google Business Profile that are free and easy to use!

  • AI Generated Business Description - have writers block? No worries. Google will create something that you just have to edit
  • 1 Click Menu Ingestion - menus are important for search and now all you have to do is click a button for Google to pull in that info from your website.
  • Preferred ordering link - choose the best link for guests to order from you
  • Events and deals - promote an offer or a unique event you are hosting and have it appear in Google feeds
  • Add social media profiles to appear ON your Google Business Profile - want your guests to see your Instagram page? Add it to Google Business profile

Learn more here.


There were A LOT of questions around influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is a great way to get awareness (not acquisition) for your restaurant. 

You want a playbook? 

Awesome. check out this article I wrote - All Your Influencer Marketing Questions Answered

If you were at #NYRestaurantShow, what did you take away?

Do you need help with any of this? Send me an email

- Rev Ciancio

*I help restaurants to build guest marketing programs.
*I help hospitality tech companies with lead generation and content marketing.

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