The 8 Essential Items That Keep Restaurant Customers Coming Back

A hook! A hook! My kingdom for a hook!

The 8 Essential Items That Keep Restaurant Customers Coming Back

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Whenever we step inside a restaurant, there’s an expectation that the restaurant will have certain things on hand: tables and chairs, salt and pepper shakers, bitter servers with glassy eyes and sour faces. But there are some items that not all restaurants have that they should. 


Hooks are the simplest of things to have but so many restaurants fail to provide them. Every seat at the bar should have a hook mounted directly in front of it so there’s a place to hang bags, coats, or one’s worries.  And while they’re installing hooks at the bar, they should put some in the restrooms as well — on the door, in the stalls, by the sink, everywhere. Nothing is as frustrating as having no place to hang your jacket or shopping bags in a restaurant restroom that has a wet, sticky floor. Hooks are cheaper than a Jack Benny joke, but can end up making the restaurant money. For every bag or coat that sits on a chair, that’s one less place for a customer to sit and order food and drinks. A hook! A hook! My kingdom for a hook!

Barstools With Backs

In my opinion, the bar is the best place to sit in a restaurant, but I need a barstool that has something to lean back on. While a backless stool might provide a cleaner aesthetic, what am I supposed to slump up against after my second frozen Margarita? A barstool with no back is an accident waiting to happen while a barstool with a back provides a place to hang a coat in the inexcusable absence of hooks. 

Paper Towels

We all love the automatic dryer that dries our hands in seconds while helping the environment and creating less maintenance for the staff, but sometimes we need more than hot air. We want paper towels. If you need to wash your face, it’s decidedly unpleasant to dry it with what feels like the Santa Ana winds shooting up your nostrils. It’s even less enjoyable to use squares of one-ply toilet paper that leaves your face covered in lint. Paper towels might be an added expense, but if a customer needs them, they’ll be grateful to have them.


Too many restaurants are using random objects to serve food on and, and as obvious as it may seem, every restaurant should have plates. The butter board trend has gone far enough and people want to see their food served on something they know can be run through a dishwasher. Nobody needs a burger and fries served on a cutting board honed from the wood of an olive tree. All that is is an opportunity for half of the fries to slide right onto the table. Once when I was a cater waiter, I served appetizers on a skateboard. Creative, sure. Appetizing? Absolutely not.

Paper Menus

QR codes that lead to an online menu are a terrific way for the restaurant to save on printing costs every time there’s a menu change, but they should have some good old-fashioned paper menus too. There are people in this world who don’t have a smartphone and that doesn’t make them dumb. Some people don’t want to depend on their phone for everything or maybe they’d just rather not use it. A tangible, tactile menu is appreciated by many guests and every restaurant should be prepared to dust one off if it’s requested. 

Reading Glasses

Half the people who need reading glasses refuse to accept that they need reading glasses. Middle-aged eyes paired with suboptimal lighting conditions can sometimes make it tough to read a menu, digital or otherwise. Having an extra pair of readers on hand will not only help a customer out, it will let them continue their delusion that they don’t really need them. Reading glasses are cheap and can maybe even be purchased at the same place the hooks are available.

Phone Chargers

Like it or not, we live in a world that is controlled by our devices and how charged and accessible they are. Any restaurant that provides a cell phone charger or a USB port for the battery-challenged is going to get high marks from customers. If the restaurant has free wi-fi, they should flaunt it. Post the network name and password someplace where customers can find it with ease so they don’t have to constantly ask about it. 

Angel Shots

Angel shots are a cocktail that isn’t actually a cocktail at all. It’s something a patron can order from the bartender or server if they’re feeling unsafe with who they are dining with. More and more restaurants are instituting the idea and it costs absolutely nothing. A discreet sign is hung in the women’s restroom that says something to the effect of: “Is your Tinder date not going as planned? Order an Angel Shot and we will discreetly assist you.” Ordering it neat or straight up means the guest needs an escort to their car. On the rocks means the server should call a taxi or an Uber. Ordering it with lime or a twist means the police should be called. Angel Shots are free, but their value is immeasurable. They might even be more impressive than hooks. 

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