Samantha on Sex in the City had it right when she said, “First the gays, then the girls, then everyone catches on…”
The gay market is incredibly savvy and fashion forward; they are loyal to those that they love, and wherever they go, the girls (and the straight guys) soon follow. Restaurants that cater to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) market will not only see real business booms from this niche – but truly reap the benefits over and over again. Why? Because we are loyal and support the businesses that recognize and respect our community.
Look Before You Leap – For restaurateurs that are eager to open their doors to our market – they must do so from a place of true respect and authenticity. Sure we are a lucrative group but simply hanging the big rainbow flag outside their doors and calling themselves gay friendly won’t do. First, they must practice what they preach – and make sure they are as gay friendly inside their businesses (with employees and purveyors) as they are with their guests. If they get it right, the rewards can be very tasty. According to Community Marketing, Inc., a leading resource for gay and lesbian marketing research, based in San Francisco, gays spend on average over $60 per week in restaurants and around $30 per week on alcohol. They tend to fall into the lucrative DINK demographic (dual income no kids), and therefore tend to have more disposable income. In short, we spend a lot more than most of our straight counterparts.
Smart restaurateurs know that in addition to showing us the respect we deserve, they need to stay current. Our group must be in the know and at the right spots — usually before anyone else gets to them. We like our discoveries. This is happening right now with bars. Cosmos are so 2006, any discerning gay in 2010 has moved way past them. If the bars you’re going to don’t feature classic cocktails (from the Savoy Cocktail Book) or modernized versions featuring freshly squeezed fruit juices and unique ingredients — they aren’t up going to keep your attention or dollars.
Likewise, the menus at restaurants better be as fresh as those ingredients the chef is boasting. No one knows fresh better than us! Menus should follow dining trends, and these days that means small shareable plates and flexible portion sizes. Dining is a communal event, and today’s diners enjoy sharing many tastes of multiple dishes. Flexible portion sizes offer appeal, giving diners the ability to select how much they want to eat. Some of us are okay indulging and some of us will always need to fit into our skinny jeans (bitches) – so flexible portion sizes are the way to go these days.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If a restaurant embraces diversity and keeps on top of current restaurant trends, it’s important to live out loud and reach out to the LGBT community. A little public relations and marketing flair adds the final touch, just like the perfect accessory completes a great suit. We love our charity fundraisers, chef dinners, wine tastings and big ass cocktail parties – so the restaurants that keep active event calendars – do really well. This could mean inviting popular local musicians to perform at the bar, hosting an opening night party for new show or inviting visiting celebrity chefs to cook in the kitchens. We love to socialize and we love to bring groups together.
For the restaurants that prove their love to us – we become their biggest fans. And with our endorsements – restaurants can be very, very successful –and that’s downright dee-licious.