• Home
    Home We Serve America's Restaurants Representing nearly 500,000 restaurant businesses, we advocate for restaurant and foodservice industry interests and provide tools and systems that help members of all sizes achieve success.
  • Foundation
    Foundation Building & Retaining Talent The NRAEF is focused on developing a stronger workforce and building the next generation of industry leaders through education, scholarships and community engagement.
  • Show
    Show May 18-21, 2019 As the international foodservice marketplace, the National Restaurant Association Show provides unparalleled opportunities for buyers and sellers to come together, conduct business and learn from each other.
  • ServSafe
    ServSafe Minimize Risk. Maximize Protection. For over 40 years, ServSafe® training programs have delivered the knowledge, leadership and protection that have earned the trust and confidence of business leaders everywhere.

National Restaurant Association - Weave merchandise into your brand plan

Skip to navigation Skip to content

Manage My Restaurant

Weave merchandise into your brand plan

Building your brand is an ongoing process, and providing customers tangible ways to show the world they like your restaurant business can only amplify buzz. Mellow Mushroom recently revamped its merchandise program, coined House of Shroom; because every location makes an effort to be community-oriented and a destination of its own right, nearly all stores now offer a unique t-shirt, in addition to items from the company-wide apparel collection.

“Apparel is such a marketing asset for your brand,” Elizabeth Brasch, Mellow Mushroom brand manager, said. “It brings intrinsic value. We have a lot of loyal customers who are excited about our merchandise.”

Here are Brasch’s tips for launching a successful merchandise program:

Establish your budget.  Are you a corporate-owned system or a franchised system? Where do you want to advertise? Nail down how much money you want to invest in the program and set revenue goals.

Define program standards. Every piece of merchandise should reflect your brand. Think out product assortment, inventory management and, most importantly, quality control. “For the same reason you have a kitchen manager, I suggest one employee ‘owning’ the merchandise program in-store,” said Brasch.

Train employees. During the staff on-boarding process, teach team members how to speak about store merchandise and create the best guest perception of your products. “Although it may not be your top dollar-earner, merchandise needs to be articulated correctly to guests. Employees are brand ambassadors,” Brasch said.

Present products effectively. Displays should always look organized, neat and approachable. Just like you take inventory for your restaurant’s food, do the same for your merchandise. Allow guests access to touch and feel products, and don’t be afraid to look beyond your competitors or the restaurant industry altogether.

“Look at brands that do merchandise in an interesting way. Figure out what you can take from that,” Brasch said.

Manage vendors. “Not every vendor is right for every company,” Brasch said. Some offer a wide range of services, from design work to shipping to fulfillment, while others specialize in one area. Clearly lay out your expectations and goals, and go with the vendor that best suits your needs.

Gather guest feedback. “We regularly launch surveys. We look at numbers and evaluate every week, spotting trends,” Brasch said. Ask customers what they like and why. Use that feedback to create more brand magic. 

▲ Back to Top


Know. Reach. Delight.

Fishbowl 2018

We're glad you're here!®

® 2012-2017 National Restaurant Association. All rights reserved.

2055 L St. NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-5900 | (800) 424-5156