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May 2016 – Active Bookings

How to IMPROVE your Restaurant? Key facts and tips for restaurant owners.

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How to IMPROVE your Restaurant? Key facts and tips for restaurant owners.

Running a restaurant is not just a business that obviously should be generating profits but also it is an amazing social experience.

alexander-house-hotel-east-grinstead-west-sussex-1Have You ever asked yourself why do people choose to come to restaurant A not to restaurant B? What are the key reason they choose one venue over another one? Is it the food quality? Cuisine type? Decor? Atmosphere? Service quality? The list is long and we will go over few of these factors in this article.

The whole purpose of this exercise will be to find out few weak point in your business and try to improve them. Some of them You might not agree with and some You will find hopefully helpful.  Restaurant trends and popularity are different to each post code due to demographics of the area as the main factor.

Tip 1 – Clearly state your CUISINE TYPE

seven-park-place-by-william-drabble-green-park-piccadilly-st-jamess-london-11People usually look for particular cuisine type before they decide to book a table. Would You plan your evening without knowing what food you will be eating? Probably not!

Try to be specific and original. Instead of describing your food alexander-house-hotel-east-grinstead-west-sussex-3as “Italian” or “European” , try to add geographical region to it. For example “Sicilian” or “Baltic”. It will suggest diners authenticity to the description.  I have visited many Indian restaurants , but when I am planning to search for Indian cuisine online the one that is described as “southern Indian” or “taste of Mumbai” will get my attention before the other ones from that list, because it sounds original.

Tip 2 – Quality of your WEBSITE – Don’t waste your money!

web pjotoDesigning a high quality website is not difficult and You should never spend more than few hundred quid on getting your business online. All You really need is a low cost hosting and website template that you like and suit your venue.  You could be done in few hours with a very impressive website without need of hiring a  web development company that will charge you thousands for it.

So lets walk You through it:

Step 1 – Your domain name (website name) and hosting plan (cost of being online).

Cost of website hosting is different depending on the size of your content and hosting providers. Restaurants do NOT NEED big hosting plans !!!!  You are not planning to start another Facebook or YouTube,  all YOU want is to show your business , galleries, menus, opening hours and take bookings. Means any  Basic Plan will do the job.

One.com offers the lowest cost on the market and I have personally developed many websites for my clients using their services. Their hosting plans are sometimes include the domain name. The usual cost for running the website will be less than £5!!!

Step 2 – Your Website Design (using WordPress based templates)

Once You have your website registered and started the hosting plan, You should select WordPress as the base of the website. There are many FREE templates designed for restaurants and cafes. However if You really want to stand out then You should get yourself a professional template that will cost You no more than £50-£100.

My absolute favorite is BRANDO, “a sophisticated, creativity, and easy-to-use parallax Restaurant WordPress theme that it allows you to display the beautiful dishes, romantic space, nice view, attractive events; tell interesting stories, or promote the delicious cuisine in the world… This theme is suitable for Restaurants, Fast Food, Coffee, bakeries, bars, bistro, tavern, saloon, dinner, culinary specialties shops, wedding restaurant, personal chef websites, banquet conference center and more… Brando Template cost $59 and it is very easy to install onto your website and start customizing.” – (Source http://tinyurl.com/hhl6em2)


If You are not computer savvy at all or You really have no time doing it yourself then simply hire someone to help You with the registration of the website and uploading the template to it. Hire a student or ask one of Your staff, surely at least one of them will know what to do! This will save You thousands of pounds than Yo can spend on marketing Your business instead!

Tip 3 – Social Media presence – engage with your followers

socialnyKeep Your customers up to date with events that are happening at your venue. and post it to your social media profiles on regular basis. Let them all know about your new menu, special events such as Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Live Music, New Cocktail list, Special offers and whatever You want to shout out about.

Never limit Yourself to Facebook and Twitter only. Although they are “high authority” websites, not everyone is using them. Look for new platforms and portals to list your business.

Tip 4 – Taking MORE Reservations 

How do You take your bookings? Is it just the phone, and a sheet of paper where you scribble some names and phone numbers? If the answer is “Yes” then You definitely have to realize that this is 21st century!

  1. “Pay per cover” platforms:

    There are many platforms where You can feature Your restaurant in. Some of them have good reputation and do bring covers to Your venue, such as OpenTable or BookaTable. The price You would have to pay for every customer that comes via their website is usually £2 plus VAT.

    They will also offer You to place their booking form on your own website that will cost You £0.25 plus VAT for every customer that book a table directly from your page. Why would  You EVER want to pay for Your own customers ?!

    You should NEVER counts on those portals as the main source of traffic to your business and it does cost You.  Some of the platforms even charge You monthly subscription fee plus the cover charge like Quandoo, means You will be paying £30 per month plus VAT and have no guarantee that You will ever get any bookings.

  2. “No cover charge” platforms

    Get listed for free on many other portals that could bring You traffic. Use TripAdvisor and ActiveBookings . Those two will not cost You to have a professional page on their directory. Both will collect reviews for your restaurant and help customers to find Your venue on the map.

Trip Advisor is well established that also can make it hard to stand out from the crown as Paid Featured members will be on top of the search results, where ActiveBookings is based on geolocation based search and quality design that is more fair on every business listed there.

Also try looking for local business directories in your area and submit your listing there.

Tip 5 – Table Management Systems 

There many varieties of table management systems that will help You operate the business and bookings. they should never cost You more than £150 per month and you will essentially save time and money on paying a staff member for the job that the table management system can do for You. Those systems are designed to automate the process of online reservations and allocating them to the tables in Your restaurant. The BEST system that i ever came across is ResDiary.


ResDiary System is armed with very powerful Yield Management tool as well as many other features.

 Their software contains more features than Quandoo, Collins or even the outdated OpenTable systems. ResDiary doesn’t charge for the reservations and they are not trying to tie You up to any type contract. On top of that You will also be featured on their portal at never pay for covers booked.  Their prices range between £49 – £149 that is way less than any other competitor. It is practically like getting a Rolls Royce car for the price of a Fiat.

You can send Your inquiry here and one of the ResDiary representatives will contact You with more information regarding their Table Management System.

Tip 6 – Original Wine List

wine-bottlesWhat I mean by “Original Wine List” is that if you can find the same wine labels in the supermarket, means they should never be served in your restaurant. Look for independent wine merchants for your stock supplies.

Your House Wine should represent your restaurant. You can still find a quality product without compromising on your profit margins.  “House” does not mean “Cheap”, remember that. Many wine suppliers even offers a private label with your restaurant logo on the bottle.

Tip 7 – Quality Coffee Beans and Tea

roasted coffee beans

Pact Coffee delivers quality beans to your door

Another very important factor whether your customers will come back to You, especially during the morning and lunch hours. There are many places with great decor, outstanding location and an impressive menu, however when I asked for the coffee, I got served an instant watery cup of filth….. Surely You know that feeling , right?

There is no better profit margin You could ever get as from a hot beverages. Research some quality suppliers, look for quality beans as there is not much difference in prices between them all.

Try Pact Coffee , an outstanding  coffee beans supplier with proven quality across restaurant industry. Give Your customers reasons why they should choose You over Costa or Starbucks!

Please subscribe to our blog for more tips and advice that will be released on a monthly basis. If You have any questions please feel free to contact us.

May 30, 2016 / by / in
How to make an authentic Pizza at home?


  • 10g fresh yeast
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 375g Italian ’00’ flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh basil to serve
  • For the tomato sauce:
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 onion (chopped)
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 2 x 400g cans good-quality Italian chopped tomatoes


  1. Mix together the yeast and sugar with 250ml warm water and leave to sit for 10 mins. Place half the flour in a table-top mixer with a dough hook, pour in the yeast mixture and beat at medium speed for 10 mins (or mix in a bowl, then knead with oiled hands in the bowl for 5-10 mins). Leave somewhere warm for 10 more mins, then add the remaining flour and oil. Beat or knead to a dough for a further 5 mins. Put in a well-oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and place somewhere warm to double in size – about 1½ hrs.
  2. For the sauce, heat the oil in a pan over a moderate heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 mins, stirring constantly. Add the garlic, 1 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper and cook for 2 mins more. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a good 20 mins, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once your dough has doubled in size, slap it down on a lightly floured surface and knead for 4 mins until soft but not too elastic. Divide into 6 pieces, roll into balls and leave to rest for 10 mins. Heat oven to the highest temperature possible (270C fan in the Good Food test kitchen) and place a flat baking sheet in the oven.
  4. With a well-floured rolling pin, roll out each ball of dough as thinly as possible. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, oil or dust with flour, then carefully transfer the dough base onto it. Spread over some of the tomato sauce (I like to apply it in the quantity that you would spread Marmite on toast, or the base will be soft and fall to bits), then the cheese and any toppings you desire (see below for some ideas). Cook for between 5-10 mins depending on your oven temp, until the base is crisp and the cheese melted. Scatter with basil.
Recipe from Good Food magazine, March 2010


Find Best Italian Restaurants near You

May 30, 2016 / by / in
Top 5 Rose Wines for Summer 2016

Top 5 Rose Wines for Summer 2016

Previously known as the “Table Wine” in France , the fashion for rose wines arrived in Europe very recently.
We admire  it today, especially during sunny spring and summer. This “pink wine” now accounts for  over  15 per cent of all the bottles sold in restaurants and shops.

But it’s not long since “serious” wine drinkers looked down their noses at rose?, considering it unsophisticated fare for those who couldn’t choose between red and white.

Here are Top 10 pick for this summer with a little hint where You can find them.


1.Château du Donjon Rosé, 2013


Wine Region:  Languedoc


Really good. Ruddy pink. Berries, watermelon and slate nose. Melon and mineral mid palate. Not overly acidic. Finished dry and slate-y.

Grapes : Shiraz/Syrah, Grenache Noir, Cinsault

Perfect with Beef, Lamb, spicy food, mature and hard cheese

Where to find it ? 

Addendum Restaurant (Tower Hill) – £20 / bottle 




2. Acantus Rosado Vino De La Tierra De Castilla

Wine Region: Spain


Fresh red fruits. Well balanced & smooth with intense fruity aromas

Grapes: Merlot & Garnacha

Perfect with red meat, seafood, on its own

Where to find it ? 

Barcelona Tapas (Dulwich) – £16 / bottle 




3. Vin Rose Du Sud De France

Wine Region: South France


PAYS D’OC, made from classic Southern French grapes, this provides juicy raspberry and cherry flavours on a refreshing palate

Perfect with Mussels, Seafood and Chicken

Where to find it ? 

Cafe Rouge (Bromley)




4. Sancerre Rosé Loire Valley


00011317-full   Wine Region: France, Loire


Made from Pinot Noir, with the skins in contact with the juice for a only few hours to produce a delicate, dry, pink wine with a delicious aroma of fresh strawberry and notes of blackcurrant.

Grapes: Mainly Pinot Noir


Perfect with light bites or on its own.


Where to find it ? 

Wilton’s (St James- London)


5. Le Pozzelle, Salice Salentino Rosado,  2013

Wine Region: Italy


100% Negroamaro grape. Bright coral in colour, floral on the nose. Dry on the palate, rich and elegant with a pleasantly dry aftertaste

Grapes: Negroamaro

Perfect with red meat, stew and mature cheese

Where to find it ? 

UNo Restaurant (Pimlico) £23.75 / bottle


Discover more exciting restaurants and bars in your local area with ActiveBookings.co.uk and book your table directly via our portal. Remember to leave a review and share it with others!

May 24, 2016 / 50 Comments / by / in

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