We’ve been talking about merchandising for your restaurant, and we addressed, 2 Huge reasons to offer merchandise. Namely, Increasing your profits and building your brand.


But really, you can only accomplish your goals of branding if you actually make something fitting for your brand.  You will only sell it, if people want it.


The point of this post is to get you thinking about best items.  Here are some tips for making merch people will love.


Tips for Merchandise


What things will you sell to be on brand?  What things will your customers want?


Step 1: Research & Brainstorm Brand-specific Items

  • fine dining restaurant: wine glasses, shot glasses, watches, wallets, ties, scarves, throws…
  • College bars/dive bars: T-shirts, glasses, magnets, key chains, pins, stickers…
  • Craft Beer Bars: minimal design-focused items. Ask your brewery friends what sells


The point is, think of your core demographic/brand and what they like, and what some of those items say about you.  Do you have to order from a local printer if this is part of your brand?  etc.


ie.  Check out how New Belgium maintains their “hip bike” brand with patches, recycled frisbees, koozies for bikes, etc.


Step 2: Ask Loyal Customers & Staff


Now that you’ve done the research and brainstormed, think of your core patron demographic…


Which of your staff are in tune with that demographic? Which regular patrons seem to represent a wider customer base?  Just ask them what they think!


Step 3: Design Something Cool


Again, a very important step! If you’d like to hire a designer, we have a couple we use regularly, so we’ll be able to help almost anyone get some awesome projects done!  (Call us at 612-803-1022 and ask to talk about merch design)


Here are some basic items and general principles of what sells:



  • text or image in front that expresses brand (whether funny, clever, cool or elegant)
  • logo; consider how it fits in overall design. Is it better on the sleeve or back?
  • should be soft and stylish; what are they going to want to wear?
  • girl-T vs. Guy-T… Fits are totally different as are costs!


  • should relate to restaurant (retro, modern, catchy, “local” imagery)
  • travel mugs are better as they have the potential for greater word-of-mouth marketing
  • better to have a distinct shape rather than traditional mug


  • quality? fitted? furry?  (ie. check these from Great Divide)
  • baseball caps are safest bet
  • creative placement or representation of logo as back is out of sight

Packaged Food

  • provide customers with the ingredients but not the exact recipe
  • logistical issues: proper packaging and shipping
  • necessary phone and online services


General Guidelines to consider when talking price…


Again, the point of this post is to get you to brainstorm some cool stuff that is all about you!

Then to ask your customers and staff what they like.

Then finally, come up with a cool design for those favorites. You should worry about sourcing and cost later, but should note standards for each item;


Typical Cost Considerations

  • quality & sizing
  • number of colors/imprint areas
  • quantity of an order (and how many you think you can sell)
  • local printer? do you have to ship it?
  • where will you store it?
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