The Quaker Steak & Lube® Franchising Blog

How Restaurant Franchise Owners Can Use Event Marketing to Drive Sales

Years ago, consumers were content to eat good food at a fair price in a clean restaurant, but that’s not enough anymore. Diners want an experience with their meals; they want to feel connected with the restaurants they choose to visit. When restaurants establish a connection with guests, those guests become loyal customers. Restaurant concepts that deliver on experience tend to thrive over those that don’t.

Quaker Steak & Lube franchised restaurants provide experiences and events that engage guests and form memorable interactions, ultimately converting them into returning customers. In addition to offering a varied menu that includes exceptional wings, steakburgers, ribs, steaks, salads and more, we provide a very unique atmosphere. Guests of any of our locations will tell you how much they enjoy the automotive-themed restaurants that feature car, motorcycle and gas station inspired décor and memorabilia.

However, some of the most noteworthy differentiators for our restaurant franchise brand involve the car- and bike-themed events that attract auto and motorcycle enthusiasts to drive revenue for our franchise owners. Quaker Steak franchisees know their markets better than anyone, so they control the logistics of each occasion, and organize them to appeal to the largest audiences possible.

Economic Engines: Bike Nites and Car Cruise-Ins

Because most of our locations offer large footprints – including the physical restaurants and parking lots– our franchisees are able to host popular indoor and outdoor events for the ultimate combined dining and special occasion experiences.

Our Bike Nites and Car Cruise-Ins attract local motorcycle riders and unique car owners who like to show off their rides. Our restaurants provide ample space for the owners to park, exhibit their bikes and cars, and mingle. At the same time, our lots also leave plenty of room for those customers who might not want to participate in the vehicular festivities.

We frequently have colossal-sized Bike Nites, where you may see hundreds, even thousands, of motorcycles parked in the lot. It’s not unusual to see between 600 and 1,000 bikes per week at Bike Nites hosted by our Columbus, Ohio, location, meaning there’s potential to exceed 1,000 paying customers in addition to our regular diners.

“They’re not like your corner bar bike night, where you have 10 to 15 people on motorcycles pulling up,” said Bruce Lane, vice president of Quaker Steak & Lube. “These are big, events that create a lot of excitement to draw extra sales. We are known for our Bike Nites.”

Our franchisees are given the autonomy to organize the activities as they see fit. The Quaker Steak & Lube corporate team is equipped to provide support and guidance, including art templates and press releases to promote the occasions through local media, and other support to maximize the return-on-investment. But, it’s up to franchise owners to determine the scope of each event relevant to their markets.

For instance, each restaurant runs their Car Cruise-Ins to best fit their guests’ wishes. Some may develop promotions to attract both car owners and customers. Those promotions might include food and beverage discounts for people with hot rods, street rods, classic or vintage vehicles to encourage attendance and participation in the community gatherings. To accommodate car owners, who might not like to leave their automobiles unattended and to garner extra profits, many of our franchisees deliver food to them in the parking lots.

Quaker Steak franchisees commonly bring in musical entertainment for Bike Nites and Car Cruise-Ins. Some operators also have sponsors for these events, which may include auto parts stores, beer distributors, radio stations and others.

In addition to revenue, this also helps the franchise owners generate good will in their communities by hosting events to support local charities. Restaurant owners may hold 50/50 raffles with sponsors, where half the proceeds go to the winners and the other half goes to the charities.

“We don’t impose a lot of mandates,” Bruce said. “It’s whatever works best for each location.”

There’s a Variety of Fun Inside, Too

While the large parking lots easily accommodate many people, motorcycles and cars, our vast interior spaces of Quaker Steak & Lube restaurants are ideal for band performances and parties of all sizes. Typically, rooms or sections of the restaurant can be partitioned to accommodate both the guests seeking entertainment and parties or those guests who simply dropped by for dinner.

Franchise restaurant owners are also encouraged to drive sales by hosting popular seasonal events. Corporate support is provided for all of these occasions, as well. Throughout the year, our franchisees will see increased revenue when they hold:

  • Trivia nights, which include food and drink specials;
  • “Trunk or Treat” on Halloween, a safe space for kids and their families to go trick or treating;
  • Veterans Day specials for men and women who have served in the armed forces;
  • Lunch or dinner with Santa, where children can visit with the jolly old elf and tell him what they want.

Quaker Steak & Lube’s proven business model has produced an average annual unit volume of over $2.8 million. Because Quaker Steak & Lube has become a destination and not just a restaurant with exceptional food at a fair price in a clean environment, we have a unique competitive position over other franchising restaurant concepts.


If you’re interested in owning a destination restaurant that drives sales with a variety of events, fill out a franchise application.