Do you run a restaurant? If you do, then I'm sure one of your biggest challenges is figuring out how to get customer into your place throughout the day - particularly during the off hours between lunch and dinner. You're still paying rent, utilities and other overheads - not to mention your staff - whether the tables are filled or not. So how do you keep the cash coming in even when customers aren't?

According to a recent report from the New York Post, three cool new apps can help.

Bathroom, anyone?

The first is Lulu. I'm thinking this app has its origins in the UK because the "loo" is where you go when...well...you need to go.

By signing up for this service, you're making your bathroom facilities available to the public - for a fee. Users of the service get to see your location, your hours and any age limits (maybe you’re running a bar?) on a map that shows your location, along with others that are making themselves available for those needing a nature call.

The cost to you is nothing - customers get charged anywhere from $.99 to $3.99 for the use of your facilities and you keep a commission.  Depending on how entrepreneurial you are, you can offer visitors coupons or other incentives to actually partake in your food and drink instead of just using the facilities. The app is currently testing in the New York City area and will be available for general customer use there this summer.

Leave your luggage!

Besides your bathrooms, do you have any additional space in your restaurant that could be utilized? If so, then you might want to sign up for Bagbnb.  It's like Airbnb...but for suitcases.  Like Lulu, users of this app can find out which restaurants are available for them to leave their bags for the day while they tour around the city. The cost is about $6 per bag, and you get half - plus, again, any revenues you can innovatively generate from the added traffic coming through your door in the middle of the day.

“It can be a little hectic in the morning when you have ten people lined up ready to drop off their bags,” Chelsea Feldcher, a manager at Pennsylvania 6, a restaurant near Penn Station, told the New York Post. “But obviously any extra revenue is great for us and we are introducing new people to the restaurant.”  Her restaurant started using Bagbnb a few months ago and is now pulling in about $2,000 a month. She also says that about a quarter of the bag-leavers end up eating or drinking at her restaurant.  Unlike Lulu, Babbnb is available in dozens of cities around the world.

Turn your restaurant into a shared office

Finally, for the laptop-toting crowd desirous of a fast internet connection and little peace and quiet, there's KettleSpace.  This app, which has only been around for about six months, is signing up a community of member restaurants willing to offer their spaces to freelancers and entrepreneurs willing to pay as much as $99 per month for a membership fee to take advantage of an office-away-from-their-office. 

Besides being quieter and with an internet faster than the typical Starbucks, other incentives restaurants are offering include free coffee, snacks and meals. Consider this a less expensive alternative to co-working spaces like WeWork. For some restaurant owners, KettleSpace is also providing extra cash. “It’s newfound money for us,” one restaurant owner said in the Post story. “This has the potential to reach $3,000 to $5,000 a week for us, which could slash my rent by up to 30 percent.”

Sure, the restaurant business is tough. But, thanks to the sharing economy and a few smart applications, owners of some eateries are finding new ways to help them offset their operating expenses - and even draw in new customers.

Published on: Apr 12, 2018