Say it yourself – how to create a tone for your restaurant

OpenTable partnered with Kristen Hawley, founder of the popular Chefs + Tech newsletter, to create the How to Grow & Thrive in the Restaurant Business e-book, the ultimate guide to serving guests and growing your business at every phase of a restaurant’s lifecycle. We’re sharing excerpts from each stage, so follow along and download the whole guide here.

“I let the chefs do the photos and I write the words. I’m constantly curious about who other people follow and why they like that person and what the point of it is. There’s often a big divide between the people coming and eating dinner at a restaurant and people who work in the restaurant.” – Marc Russo, Osteria di Russo & Russo

Creating a tone guide is important for consistency across channels, and can be a central point of reference for your whole team. Consistency of the tone you use on social media will extend your restaurant’s message. Outside consulting services and internal marketing teams usually create tone guides for a brand’s social media presence, but you don’t need a marketing team to create your own.


  1. Your mission or vision statement.
  2. A personification of your voice. (‘Your hip friend who knows about all the newest hot spots before anyone else.”)
  3. Words you use to describe your brand.
  4. Words you’d never use to describe your brand.
  5. Subjects or content areas important to the restaurant and brand.
  6. A rough schedule or sense of post frequency.

A tone guide should be considered a living document, updated frequently with successful examples, ideas, or learnings from past campaigns.


How to: Develop and Hone your social media Voice – Kristian Klein, Mr. Miyagi

Keep it lighthearted. We did a lot of brainstorming, but I think the main thing that has made our voice so good is our sense of humor. We constantly bounce ideas off of each other. What’s funny? What appeals to people? What can everyone relate to?

Don’t be afraid to let your voice evolve. We try to work out if we have a character in here, what would he be? Would he be funny? Our voice has developed over time. We started with Mr. M being the wise, a bit like Confucius, but funnier. He’s changed a bit, he’s become a little more angry in his old age.

Build on what you have. Add new elements. We’ve added on another character, Mr. M’s mistress to correspond with our bar next door that’s been branded a little differently. She’s called Yuki and she’s a little bit angry because she doesn’t get enough attention, but she’s also sophisticated.

Keep it close. We do all of this in-house. We’ve had others try and take it over, but no one knows the brand like we know the brand. No one can communicate what Mr. M is like more than we can. We like to keep doing it ourselves.

Download the complete guide and visit pages 11-15 for more information on establishing marketing goals.

Photos courtesy of Mr. Miyagi.