Taco Cabana: Integration is key
Patio business is an integral part of the business for Taco Cabana, the San Antonio, Texas-based division of Addison, Texas-based Fiesta Restaurant Group.
Jack Civa, Taco Cabana’s director of marketing, shared some of the 160-unit chain's best practices for boosting patio sales:
Train staff to keep the patio top of mind. “We have a host or hostess who goes and checks on guests during high-volume times,” he said, “And we make sure managers do ‘table touches’ in the patio as well as the dining room.”
Patio tables are often the farthest from the heart of the restaurant, so a conscious effort must be made to tend to them, Civa added. “We have planned times to walk the floor and sweep the patio to make sure the guests are taken care of,” he said. “It also works from a cleanliness standpoint, following the ‘what you can’t see you can’t fix’ [notion]. In a fast-casual environment, things can get blown around.”
Tie the patio to brand identity and marketing strategies. Taco Cabana also markets its patio as an important part of the concept’s DNA. “We try to create an environment on the patio that is similar to the atmosphere inside the restaurants,” he said.
Patios are featured or shown in nearly all of the chain’s television ads, Civa said, and the company highlights the patio amenity in social-media advertising.
“One of the things we do from a social-media standpoint is we buy messages on a daypart basis,” Civa said. “We’ve created a specific message for our $3 Happy Hour.”
That consists of a $1.50 deal for a 10-ounce margarita or domestic beer combined with $1.50 off of the $2.99 nachos daily, including weekends, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“You get a drink and a plate of nachos for $3,” he said. “We promote that through social media such as Pandora, YouTube and a lot of Facebook.”