When BYOB Doesn’t Mean Bring Your Own Bottle

I picked up take out at a restaurant in Connecticut on a recent rainy afternoon and was startled by a sign outside that read BYOB – surely the popular restaurant wasn’t advocating that customers bring their own bottles of wine or beer.

With the restaurant’s normally buzzing bar scene, expansive outdoor seating, and offerings of cocktails to go during the pandemic, the second ‘B” had to mean something else – perhaps a clever promotion or an acronym for something else. Indeed, it was both – in this case, BYOB meant bring your own blanket. The sign was promoting a campaign by the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Rhode Island Hospitality Association has launched a similar campaign with the hashtag #BYOBlanket, encouraging guests to bundle up, bring a blanket and dine outdoors, all in an effort to help local restaurants with limited capacity indoor dining.

While no one was seated outside on this raw and rainy day in Connecticut, just the weekend before, the patio was filled with diners, made comfortable as the sun went down, by the warmth of tall gas heaters.

The window of time for restaurants to fill their outdoor seating is closing, and while the idea of wrapping yourself in your own blanket might make you feel more like you are sitting in a football stadium in November or December than dining on the terrace of an upscale restaurant, the idea might just make the most adventurous among us grab our blankets for a night out.

In fact, gearing up with branded merchandise to help diners stay warm outside, is another way for restaurants to stand out and bring in business as we head into winter and the holiday gift-giving season. I am thinking of woolen hats, gloves, scarves, insulated cocktail thermoses for hot toddies to go – and of course, blankets. Imagine your logo on any of these. Give them as gifts, sell them as branded merchandise to your biggest fans, or package them with gift cards.