#DineSmall: Restaurants Join Small Business Saturday

Small Business Development Opportunity

It took five years for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to recognize the value of locally owned restaurants and the role they play in creating and supporting a community’s economy. #DineSmall was created by the SBA in partnership with the National Restaurant Association to promote restaurants on the Saturday after Thanksgiving – Small Business Saturday.


Restaurants were encouraged to devise special menus and promote them on social media while small businesses were encouraged to stay open later. Using the hashtag ShowUsYourMenu would allow chefs to spotlight special offerings.


A review on Twitter revealed few menus and few special offerings. The SBA and its local affiliates dominated the tweets on #ShowUsYourMenu much the same as they did on #DineSmall with the addition of numerous high profile politicians tweeting in.


I checked Facebook accounts for five local restaurants located in areas with active business alliances and good foot traffic. None of them mentioned Small Business Saturday or the #DineSmall initiative. Most surprising was the lack of mention by one of the up and coming chef-owned restaurant groups. As an active member of the local food scene I would have expected her to have been one of the first participants.


Granted, it was the first year for #DineSmall and participation likely mirrored the first year for Small Business Saturday. But the SBA and National Restaurant Association have to work through a number of participation related questions: Has the restaurant sector recovered faster than small business such that they don’t feel they need to create a special menu to attract new customers? Is it too much to ask busy chefs and kitchen staffs to create a special one-day menu? How well did we communicate the information about #DineSmall?


Until there is a bettering understanding of what happened this year, it will be hard to make improvements to participation in coming years.


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