7 Alternative Revenue Streams for Restaurants

Biodegradable takeout containers

Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.

Like most businesses in the UK, restaurants are facing change because of the pandemic, tackling the challenging ebbs and flows of the hospitality industry.

In fact, our studies show that 98% of UK restaurants have had to adapt their business in order to survive, transforming how they operate by introducing services such as delivery, takeaway or produce sales.

As an independent restaurant, there may be times where you feel like you’ve hit a wall looking for ways to diversify your revenue and marketing opportunities. Read on to explore how you can embrace new trends and introduce a multi-channel business model for your restaurant by considering alternative income sources.

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Alternative Revenue Stream Ideas

Meal Subscription Boxes

These days, just as going out for food can lift spirits, so too can eating at home – with a bit of creativity!

According to YouGov, one in four people are getting more takeaways than before the pandemic, due to changing habits and staying home more.

Meal subscription boxes are a fun and engaging alternative revenue source to takeaway and delivery meals. Over the last couple of years, restaurants around the country have innovated with recipe meal kits, while grocery subscription boxes have also seen a boost in popularity.

Consider your most popular, user-friendly recipes and break down your fresh ingredients ready to be made into a meal kit. Subscription boxes can keep customers engaged with their favourite restaurants while offering that exciting feeling of digging into some tasty food and spicing up the week.


Merchandise can be an easy revenue booster while bringing more life to your brand – even better if it has artistic flair. It doesn’t have to mean simply selling items with your logo on it – get creative with:

T-shirts – Restaurant t-shirts are currently trending as customers pledge support for their favourite food establishments during the struggles of the pandemic. If people love your brand, they might just want to wear it.

Tote bags – With the influx of eco-conscious retail habits, tote bags can be an easy revenue earner as an engaging product under £10. Find out more about making your takeaway more sustainable.

Travel mugs – If you offer hot beverages to go, why not introduce branded travel mugs to reduce single-use coffee cups? You can even offer discounts to encourage customer loyalty and repeat business.

Merchandise can go a long way toward personalising your customer experience while encouraging brand awareness. Square Online can help grow your business online while you advertise merchandise at the point of sale, driving more customers to your restaurant website.

Online Classes

During lockdown, some restaurants started offering online cooking classes while businesses were closed. Entertaining and educational, customers lapped them up while they couldn’t visit their favourite establishments – from flavourful cocktail classes to professional pizza-making parties.

These culinary crash courses can involve anything from live videos of your expert chefs, to carefully cultivated recipe montages, made available to customers at the touch of a button. Offering informative and engaging cooking classes can expand your online inventory and produce extra revenue as you’re getting back on your feet.

Square Online makes it easy to adapt your inventory while streamlining operations across online platforms and your point of sale. Seamlessly integrate your social media to advertise classes and allow customers to purchase from the app.

Date Night Boxes

Like deliveries and meal kit subscriptions, you can market date night boxes toward special occasions and couples who miss going out for a romantic meal. Not all customers may be ready to hop straight back into visiting restaurants in person. However, most of us can get behind an occasional treat meal.

Date night boxes can be perfect for anniversaries, birthdays, and other milestones – bringing the exceptional experience of the best food in their area, straight to their homes.

Routines have changed for many of us due to working from home or staying indoors more than before. Encourage customers to dust off the candles and enjoy a romantic three-course meal, courtesy of their favourite restaurant.

Retail Products

Diversify your inventory and expand your revenue streams by adding retail products to your restaurant experience – this can be even more effective if you market your own special sauces and spice rubs.

If part of your unique branding is your spectacular spice creations and delicious homemade sauces – why not bottle them? At the end of a delicious meal, allow customers to continue the experience at home. Upselling at the point of sale with attractive displays are essential for any retail business, and this method can help boost your revenue as a restaurant too.

Already have a popular product to sell? Set up shop online and advertise your unique retail products alongside your website with the help of Square Online.

Food Delivery and Click & Collect

With restrictions to restaurant openings, staff shortages, and COVID safety measures ongoing – food delivery and click and collect can help fill the gap.

As many as 91% of UK restaurants see takeaway revenue as a new key earner over the next year, with 20% expecting a large portion of their sales to come from delivery and takeaway.

Adapt to change by setting up a ghost kitchen during quiet times, where restaurants can operate at a low cost to prepare meals for delivery and takeaway.

When it comes to advertising your delivery and food collection services online, our studies show that 62% of UK consumers prefer using a restaurant-owned website or online app for delivery versus third-party websites.

Drink and Food Pairing Kits

You can offer a variety of products to extend your customer experience to the home. Drink and food pairing suggestions are perfect for dinner parties and special events. Offer your culinary expertise to meet this demand and generate income.

Whether it’s a selection of popular entrées from your menu paired with the perfect drink, a classic wine and charcuterie board, whiskey and well-crafted snacks or comfort food and local beer – the potential is endless. Just make sure your packages are safe to handle and consume.

Turn your drink and food pairing kits into gift hampers as customers pay at the point of sale. You could even sell drink and food pairing kits online, saving dinner party plans with same-day delivery and collection.

How to market your new offering

Now you have a few ideas for how you can generate new income, you need to promote your new products and services.

First, it’s a good idea to conduct local market research and find out what makes your offering unique. Specialising in something new and different is what gives you the advantage over competing restaurants.

Today, your online marketing touchpoints must extend beyond just your website. Effective and consistent social media engagement can expand your reach and get your restaurant out there, advertising your new products. Utilise livestreams, videos, and 24-hour social media stories on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

Reveal what goes on behind the scenes and foster customer engagement with:

  • Recipes
  • Food delivery packaging videos
  • How to plate the perfect meal
  • New menu items
  • Responses to customer reviews
  • Promotional competitions

Make it easier for customers to find you online by integrating Instagram, Facebook, and Google with Square.

Targeted email marketing is another great way to reach customers, boost sales and advertise new services – though you need to keep it relevant. Square Marketing can help guide you on best practice, while showing on-demand reports of your efforts.

If you’re looking for new ways to generate income, get your thinking cap on and explore alternative revenue streams for your restaurant. Whatever project you choose to diversify your services, make sure to keep branding consistent and engaging to encourage repeat business.

Square can help business owners embrace new trends and stay ahead of changes to the hospitality industry to deliver the best customer experience and boost growth for themselves.