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Restaurant Marketing Strategies: Live at Pallet Bistro

25 Nov, 2015 McKell Naegle

This past week, Fluid Advertising visited Pallet Bistro for a special demonstration and interview with award winning chef/owner Buzz Willey. As a successful restaurant in a competitive marketplace, Fluid wanted to see what made chef Buzz, and Pallet, so successful.

Chef Buzz shared his personal story and the history of the restaurant, how to use marketing for a restaurant, and what keeps people coming back. In addition, he prepared a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal, showing the Fluid team just how much preparation and time goes into creating an excellent meal.

Watch the video below and keep reading to learn more about restaurant marketing strategies.

Pallet is a New American Bistro restaurant, with a variety of different foods. The focus is on delivering an authentic atmosphere, while serving classic dishes with a modern twist. Pallet is located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City (237 South 400 West), near the gateway mall. Next year will be the 4-year anniversary of the restaurant. Read more of chef Buzz Willey’s conversation with Fluid below.

Question 1: I think knowing your audience is one of the most important things for marketing in any industry. Can you define your audience; do you have a persona built?

I’d like to say our audience defines us in this restaurant because we’re in the service industry, we’re trying to make people happy, and we’re trying to get everyone from A –Z in this restaurant. You could ask a chef what their favorite guest would be, and if you ask me, my favorite guest would be a 19-year-old kid with his girlfriend that saved up to come to this restaurant, have an experience for the first time, build that memory of “wow this is what dating is, this is what food is, and look at this amazing restaurant!”

At the same time we want the guys next to us that are getting ready to go to a basketball game that want to come in and have a great dinner and try something they might not try anywhere else; broaden their horizon as far as interesting dishes or the cocktails that we make.

We don’t really have a set person that we’re shooting for. We want to make sure everyone is happy, but it would be anybody that wants a nice dining experience for a personal evening with a group of friends at our communal tables.

Question 2: It’s been said that 95% of restaurants fail within their first year of business. This is a staggering number and quite a daunting statistic. How did your first year go and how did you navigate those challenges to be here 4 years later?

The first year was very hard; we did everything we could. We were involved in all of the options available to us. Catering Twilight Concert Series, Taste of Wasatch, news station programs, and paper articles. We made ourselves as busy as possible. We grew to understand our guests and why they came and whom they brought on return visits. We observed what things they are interested in. We provided the most authentic and enjoyable experience we could.

Question 3: Have you ever employed a digital marketing agency? If so, why? How was the relationship?

Yes. We hired an advertising agency right at the start. They did a lot of work at our opening, getting our name out there. They did very well for us. They put us in the right places in terms of media.

Question 4: What are your typical marketing activities?

We have ads in a couple of magazines. Social media is huge. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We put our pastries in delis; we do a lot of sampling. Local events (Local First, Celebrate the Bounty, Taste of Wasatch), cocktail contests that draw media presence, that kind of stuff is huge. We enjoy these events and the attention and contact we get with people.

Question 5: How do you generate online reviews and generate a positive online presence?

We don’t solicit reviews from our guests. The sad statistic about reviews is that they tend to be negative. People don’t report positive experiences but negative ones. We’ve been blessed to receive great reviews on Open Table. Constructive criticism reviews are the best because we act on them.

Question 6: How do you deal with negative reviews?

I got slammed really hard by a food critic in a magazine once, he has come in since but hasn’t written any new material. That negative review and those words become a dark place for when I have a rough night, but at the same time it gives me a higher standard to reach for. Reviews can hit hard. We respond to some reviews online. If a certain guest didn’t have a great time, or wasn’t satisfied, we’ll get in contact to make sure that they know that their comments are heard and help us improve.


Fluid’s Real Life Marketing series goes live into business headquarters to show how company’s define themselves, their culture, and their audience. You’ll learn how to manage, build, and market specific industries, directly from the companies that do it every day. If you would like Fluid to visit your office and film your very own Real Time Marketing episode, leave a comment or contact us using the email icon in the main navigation. 

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