First start with a reward program, that gives them a reason to return, this program has to hit all the key elements of rewarding them. When you start collecting their data, make certain that it's for all the right reason and not just a short fix. Use this data such as email address, cell numbers and most importantly their like & dislikes. Use a monthly newsletter to inform them about certain privileges that may come their way by giving such guarded information, such as holiday specials, privileged seating for their favorite tables or server, discounts for pre-booking early or simply notifying them of any special events taking place at your business.
Next, we need to look at customers as guest coming into your home for lunch, happy hour, late nigh or dinner, make certain that when they arrive they are acknowledge promptly and welcomed into your house. By simply saying, "welcome to _____," they are made to feel welcomed and special. I really love when I walk into my favorite restaurant and greeted by someone and they remember my name and know where I like to sit. Use you data in knowing birthdays, anniversaries, or special days such as Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. All of this information is so useful in making your information a true connection with you customers.
I really like this concept, making your loyal customers suggest that they invite their friends in joining them for a great eating experience at your business. Reward them for every new customer that they bring or tell about your restaurant. Create a " Recommend a Friend " campaign to grow your base and allow them in essence to work on your behalf.
Get your employees involved, make business cards for them, no matter what position they may have. Create a rewards program for them as well as for your customers. By getting them involved it makes them share the experience of being part of the growth of your business and theirs.