Halloween Promotions in a Box- Restaurant Edition

Spooky season is here. Skeletons are adorning yards, costumes are being planned, and pumpkin spice everything is taking over menus. It’s time for your restaurant to follow suit and plan, promote, then analyze the results of your Halloween festivities. Halloween drinks and decorations are Instagramable incentives sure to lure in your regulars as well as attract new patrons. In addition, restaurants with seasonal menus see 26% more orders! Plus we’re going to walk you through it all, from determining your offer, to promoting on social media, to analyzing the success of your event by evaluating your Sestra data. 

Planning Your Halloween Offer

Your restaurant has infinite options for getting guests excited to celebrate Halloween at your venue. Determine when you’re going to kick off your promos as well as what you’re going to offer and how you’re going to decorate.

Establish Your Timeline

Will your restaurant celebrate the day of Halloween or all month long? A one day event means exclusivity while month-long food and beverage specials mean a bigger window to sell. Either way, it’s time to plan and launch your brilliant and spooky ideas. 

Offer Speciality Drinks 

Create custom cocktails or promote seasonal beer and wine. Save on cost, labor, and time by dispensing your beverages on tap. Specialty Halloween drinks and festivities are sure to draw a crowd so you want your service to be as seamless as possible. For cocktails specifically, serving from kegs can save several minutes per beverage and produces a consistent cocktail every time. Seasonal glassware and garnishes are extra special touches that add to the customer experience.










Decorate Your Restaurant

People love Halloween and you may be surprised at the buy-in you get from staff. You could even turn decorating into a contest- divide your staff into teams and have each team decorate a section of the restaurant. Either choose the winners yourself or have your guests vote. Award the winning team food and drinks from the restaurant, a day off of their choice, or something else you agree on ahead of time. 

Whether you do it yourself, hire a team, or get your staff involved, decorating can be as generic as pumpkins and skeletons or hit on a more specific theme like:

Harry Potter (decorate your restaurant according to the different Hogwarts houses),  Beetlejuice (just don’t say his name three times), or spooky classics like Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster.

Your options are as plentiful as your imagination! Whatever your theme, the only way people will be excited about it is if they know about it…

Promote Your Halloween Festivities

Update Your Menu

Update your online menu to promote your beverage specials and/or upcoming event. Take it one step further by updating the QR code placards, encouraging guests to scan to learn more about your Halloween drinks and festivities. If you haven’t already implemented QR codes and online menus at your restaurant, read Bring Your Own Device in the Food and Beverage Industry for tips to make your guests’ technology go further.

Requiring RSVPs?

If you’re going to cap the headcount for your event, use a platform like Eventbrite to gather RSVPs. You can even connect Eventbrite with your Facebook page, allowing guests to RSVP through either platform without receiving duplicates. 

Social Media

With over 2.8 BILLION active users, Facebook is an accessible platform for growing brand awareness, sharing specials and events, and eliciting RSVPs. Wherever your business has an online presence, use those platforms to promote your Halloween festivities. Note that each social media platform has different features and best practices and, while you don’t want to overwhelm your followers by posting too much, not every follower is going to see every post you publish. Promote your specials at least once a week and be sure to repost user generated content. How can you get your guests to post? While your Instagrammable drinks and decorations will have your guests snapping photos, a branded hashtag can help you track their posts related to your Halloween promos. 

Choose a branded hashtag specific to your Halloween festivities. Use this hashtag to promote your specials and encourage your guests to use the hashtag when posting their own photos. Why can’t you just ask guests to tag your business? You definitely can and should ask guests to tag your business when they post! A hashtag specific to your Halloween promos allows you to easily find and quantify your user generated content revolving around your event. The user generated content can help when measuring the success of your promotions. While sales are going to be the biggest determinant of success, user generated content means brand awareness beyond your own sphere of influence.

Measure Your Success

Sestra’s Smart Dispensing platform uses IoT technology to connect your otherwise siloed data. Each beverage and serving size can be tracked, allowing you to ensure that pours are aligned with the sales that were actually rang in. Compare your typical sales with the sales from the dates of your promos as well as the sales of specialty drinks vs. your typical menu throughout the dates of your promos. Our customers use their Sestra data to determine what beverages are bringing in the highest ROI and switch out offerings that aren’t as popular. We also help venues create promotions to rotate inventory more effectively and predict ordering needs to capitalize on seasonal trends.

Whether you celebrate spooky season with drink specials or go all out with decorations, Halloween promotions at your restaurant help welcome both regulars and new customers to your venue. And don’t stop at Halloween- use these tips to implement any seasonal specials or holiday promotions. If you don’t already have Smart Dispensing implemented at your restaurant, contact us today to learn how we can connect your technology and deliver actionable data. Already working with Sestra? Contact your customer care representative to help you set up your customer portal and analyze your seasonal trends. 

How Overpouring Drains Profits and 4 Ways to Plug the Leaks in Your Venue

Overpouring is often unintentional

The most common cases of overpouring are unintentional, caused by a lack of solid measuring practices or tools. Eye-balling a glass of wine or counting out shots for a cocktail are just two examples. Even when performed by highly skilled, honest servers, freepouring alcohol is questionable. Serving sizes are extremely difficult to judge without measuring – the difference between a 5 oz. glass of wine and a 6 oz. glass is almost imperceptible to the human eye.

Overpouring can also be intentional

Intentional overpouring shows up in different forms. Filling a draft beer all the way to the top and pouring off the foam is overpouring. Adding in an extra shot to elicit a larger tip is also overpouring. Topping off a glass of wine to kick the bottle sooner? Overpouring.

All of these actions might seem harmless on a case by case basis, especially to servers who don’t have to get up close and personal with the books. But over time, they will gouge revenue.


Now that we’ve covered the two forms of overpouring – intentional and unintentional – let’s look more closely at the different beverages in your arsenal: wine, liquor, and beer. Making a few assumptions on costs and volume, we can project losses across all three:

A single ounce of overpour on a glass of wine loses you 20% of revenue

We’ll start with wine, which is typically served from 25.4 oz. bottles. Doing the math, that bottle can serve five 5 oz. glasses or four 6 oz. glasses – a 1 oz. difference that’s difficult to see without placing the glasses side by side. If you’re accidentally serving 6 oz. when you mean to serve 5 oz., you’re losing 20% of the potential revenue from each bottle.

Now let’s break it down in terms of potential revenue. If a bottle costs you $7, losing 20% only adds up to $1.40. But, if you’re selling glasses of wine for $9 a pop, losing an entire serving per bottle cuts deeper into your margins.

A single ounce of overpour doubles the amount of liquor in your cocktails

What about cocktails? The amount of liquor in each glass is typically so small that overpouring even a little will double the cost of that serving. The same imperceptible 1 oz. overpour we talked about with wine will now lose you 50% of the potential revenue from a bottle of liquor. Cocktails are unique because the liquor is often poured over ice and mixed with other ingredients, making it even more difficult to accurately freepour. You can’t see exactly how much liquor is going in.

The problem becomes more apparent when we break down the potential revenue. Liquor has a much higher profit margin than beer or wine. The cost of a bottle of vodka can range from $27 for 33.8 oz. on the lower end to $20 for 24.5 oz. for more premium options.

Focusing on the lower end (which is served more often), the cost comes out to $0.80 per ounce. We’ll also assume your guests are paying around $10 per mixed drink. Most cocktails have 1 oz. of liquor in them, which means you can serve 33 beverages per bottle. Overpouring 1 oz. per drink cuts that potential down to 16 servings, losing you $13.50 in cost and $160 in potential revenue per bottle.

 A couple ounces of overpour on a glass of beer loses you thousands of dollars per year

The harm of frequently overpouring wine or liquor is obvious – they come in smaller servings and cost much more. But beer takes up all of the real estate in its glass and the markup per ounce isn’t quite so extreme. Still, don’t write off beer overpouring.

Let’s say a typical half-barrel keg of domestic beer costs around $100 for 1,983 oz. The cost per ounce is around $0.05. According to Nightclub & Bar, a properly poured, 16 oz. beer should have about 2.25 oz. of foam – this allows the carbon to release and affects the taste of the beer. Filling that glass all the way to the top doesn’t just hurt the taste – it also means pouring about 2 oz. more than necessary, a $0.10 loss per glass. Even if you only serve 200 glasses of beer per night, you’re losing $7,300 per year.

Put another way, you’re losing 400 oz. per night – about 25 glasses. If you’re charging as little as $6 per beer, you’re still losing $150 per night. Considering the average bar can serve over 1,000 beers on a weekend night, those lost servings add up to a huge chunk of change.


We can all agree that overpouring – intentional or unintentional on wine, liquor, or beer – is bad for business. Here are a few ways to put your beverage program on track:

Take stock of your venue

It’s difficult to solve a problem without knowing how big it is. Start by evaluating your entire program. You want to have a complete picture, from what your pour costs should be to which products aren’t popular with guests.

Then, if you don’t know where to begin, start by tightening up inventory practices. Set up a regular schedule for inventory and make sure you’re counting the same way every time. Even something as small as always starting at the left and moving right as you count will help increase efficiency and accuracy. If you need more guidance, the Bevspot blog has a good in-depth guide. Once you’ve established your new and improved system, train your employees to assist and keep an eye out for specific issues.

Train employees properly

Make sure your entire staff is knowledgeable on pouring procedures. Discourage them from pouring multiple beers at a time, opening a tap before the glass is fully under it, or topping off cocktails with a little extra booze. Providing a resource that clearly lays out your venue’s “best practices” is a great way to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

If you still encounter problems, it’s better to show than to tell. Bartenders and servers don’t have the same insight into venue sales, revenue, and losses as you do. It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. If you hold a regular meeting to go over important figures, your staff can invest themselves more in the business. Really drive the point home by filling up buckets with water to show the amount of shrinkage per month. This will give everyone a clear idea of just how much poor practices cost.

Measure with the right tools

Jiggers, measured pouring spouts, and other precision tools are an excellent investment. While they may add some extra time to service, your bottom line will appreciate the patience. And, guests will be more satisfied with beverages that are properly measured – nobody wants a mouthful of liquor when they’re expecting a fruity refreshment. Another alternative is glassware marked with portion sizes. Something as simple as a line on your wine glass indicating exactly 5 oz. will keep servings in check.

Invest in systems that do the work for you

The beverage industry is finally catching up to the 21st century. Technology is available to take the guesswork (and human error) out of pouring. It may seem like a big investment but effortless precision will always pay for itself in the long run.

The added bonus of automated solutions is that they will increase speed and quality of service. When your servers can simply place a glass and press a button, they’re free to pour more glasses at once without overpouring. Hands-free dispensing lets them take their eyes off of the tap and do what bartenders do best – engage with guests.

If you invest in a system that tracks as it serves, you can also streamline your inventory process. Data from a connected beverage dispensing solution will compare directly to point of sale and give you a clear view of what you’re losing and why.


Tighter inventory, frequent training, better tools, and increased monitoring are four ways to take stock of your venue’s inner workings and prevent a bad situation before it happens. Letting your servers know the steps you’ve taken to cut down on shrinkage will stop unintentional overpouring and show how serious you are about stopping shrinkage – which will also encourage intentional leaks to plug themselves.