How to Sell Restaurant Merchandise to Unlock New Revenue

How to Sell Restaurant Merchandise to Unlock New Revenue
Selling branded merchandise is a smart way to increase both awareness and revenue for your restaurant. Plus, what's better than having your diehards help create brand awareness for your business? 
by Alena Courtney May 02, 2024 — 3 min read
How to Sell Restaurant Merchandise to Unlock New Revenue

Selling branded merchandise is a smart way to increase both awareness and revenue for your restaurant. Plus, what’s better than having your diehards help create brand awareness for your business? 

According to the Square 2024 Future of Restaurants report, the majority of forward-looking restaurant owners are already exploring expanding into retail items as a growth strategy over the next year. Ninety percent of owners surveyed across restaurant types plan to start up new revenue streams outside their core offerings, continuing an ongoing trend. In 2023, 43% of respondents said they would expand substantially, compared to only 34% in 2022. 

Ready to take the plunge too? Here’s how to start selling restaurant merchandise that your patrons will love and that will boost profits. 

Getting started with branded merchandise for your restaurant 

Branded Merch 2.jpeg

Hi-Lo Liquor Market's branded merchandise. Photos courtesy of Hi-Lo Liquor Market.

Start by doing research to identify products that make sense for your audience and bottom line. What your brand is known for and the types of food or drink you serve will help steer you in the right direction of which retail items to dip your toes into first. Focusing on high-quality branded merchandise that people will actually use and that will yield decent profit margins is a good rule of thumb.  

Take Hi-Lo Liquor Market as an example. Alisha Buehn leads their branded merchandising buying and is responsible for curating items that align with the brand’s aesthetic and financial goals. She only buys products that are high quality and typically have some type of functional purpose.

There’s so much to choose from, but it’s really just finding good quality, but also a price point that’s not going to break the bank. So finding a happy medium of both is kind of really what we’re always aiming for.”

Alisha Buehn

The good news is that you can test out branded merchandise before making a large financial investment. Printful integrates with Square Online and allows you to design, produce, and deliver merchandise without any upfront costs or minimum order quantities. If ordering online, a customer simply orders and pays for an item on your website, and you send the order to Printful. Printful then creates the merch and delivers it to your customer.

Selling your retail items online and in person

By selling your merchandise online and in person, it’s possible to reach a wider audience beyond the four walls of your physical locations. 

Popular seafood restaurant Broad Street Oyster Co. is just one of the savvy restaurants that is branching out into the merchandise world and capitalizing on a robust online presence to make it a success.


Broadstreet Oyster Co.'s branded merchandise. Photos courtesy of Broadstreet Oyster Co.

A major component is our Square Online shop, where a customer can not only just preorder their food but they can also buy merchandise as part of their shopping experience with their lobster roll, which I think is huge.”

Christoper Tompkins

And don’t stop selling your retail items on your online store. According to the Square 2024 Future of Retail report, 52% of consumers have bought products directly from social media in the past month alone. And of those, about one-third (29%) have bought between one and four products.  

Whether you’re selling online or in person, using Square for Retail makes it seamless to accept all major payment types and have all of your orders and inventory automatically tracked in one place. 

Expanding beyond traditional branded merchandise 


Ghost Town Brewing's wholesale beers. Photos courtesy of Ghost Town Brewing

You know your business best. Beyond branded merchandise, like t-shirts or hats, there may be an opportunity to expand further into retail by packaging and selling certain unique and popular items from your restaurant. Is there a sauce or salad dressing that your business is known for? Do people love the beer or ice cream you serve and want to take the experience home with them? 

Bay Area staple Ghost Town Brewing has unlocked substantial revenue by expanding into both branded merchandise and wholesale business. The multilocation brewery found success by canning their beers and incorporating their unique metal brand visuals into the packaging. Ghost Town’s wholesale and merchandise revenue streams naturally align with its core business and appeal to their target customer.

Following a similar approach, your restaurant can unlock additional growth opportunities by selling your coveted staples not only in your brick-and-mortar locations and online but in bulk to various outlets or retailers for onward sale. 

Incorporating retail into your restaurant business 

Once you’ve decided to venture into retail as a restaurant owner, it’s imperative to find an intuitive POS solution that integrates all aspects of your business. Using an integrated technology partner, you can manage not only your restaurant operations but also your new retail venture, all in one place. 

With Square for Retail, it’s easy to analyze and manage your branded merchandise. Get alerts when stock runs low, quickly understand which products are yielding a high profit margin or sell-through using reliable and accurate stock reporting, and get time back with efficient and dependable inventory tools. 



Alena Courtney
Alena Courtney is an Editor at Square covering all things Retail — She writes about retail trends, retail business models, inventory and supply chain management, ecommerce and in-person growth.


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