Forty green bottles

10 April 2002 by
Forty green bottles

The management at Savannah know the value of database marketing, so they've come up with a prize draw that should interest any restaurant-goer. David Jones reports.

It's a chance to win your own wine cellar. All you have to do is get your name on the mailing list for Oxford's Savannah restaurant and you'll be entered in the draw to win all 40 bottles on the wine list.

And there's no need to worry that you're going to be bombarded with junk mail for the rest of your life. Just tick the box on the card and they won't send you a thing.

There are several ways to become a "friend of Savannah" and enter the draw. "Customers can fill out the small cards on the restaurant tables, or just leave us their business card," says managing director Stuart Campbell. "Alternatively, they can fill in their details on the Web site."

The 40 bottles of wine will cost the restaurant more than £300, but Campbell knows it's worth it if the result is a comprehensive customer database.

The next challenge is to make the restaurant's Web site work as a marketing tool. The original site was developed for use pre-opening, but it hasn't been updated for six months, so it's time for a relaunch. "We had grand plans for the site," Campbell says, "but it didn't bring in a lot of customers so we didn't spend money or effort promoting it. It has proved to be useful for recruitment, however."

The new site is being designed to reflect the real restaurant operation, rather than just the concept, and will include the menu and a simplified page for booking a table, as well as the form for leaving your contact details.

Savannah is using a specialist consultancy firm for the development work, but staff will be able to add new information once it is up and running. "Saher Sidhom, our general manager, is very Web-savvy and will be able to make amendments," Campbell says. "We'll update the menu whenever we change it, for example, and we'll be using the Web site to advertise promotions and special offers such as the prize draw."

The restaurant's most recent promotion, the Mother's Day lunch, was a popular event, blighted by one of those unforeseeable setbacks all restaurateurs dread.

"We attracted about 100 people for the Sunday lunchtime, compared with the normal 30-40, and arranged for a jazz duo to come and play. Unfortunately, somebody burnt something in an oven in the back kitchen, and that set the fire alarm off at 1.30pm," Campbell explains. "We lost power to the extraction system as well. We didn't have to evacuate guests, but we couldn't get the bells to stop ringing for 20 minutes."

Savannah reduced all the bills by 25% as compensation, and doesn't seem to have suffered as a result of the incident. "We had quite a few new customers that day and they were very understanding," Campbell says. "One of them came back four times the following week. And the jazz was popular - so we've booked them for the next six weekends."

Next visit to Savannah: 23 May

The story so far

Oxford's Savannah restaurant opened in October last year, on what used to be the ground floor of the Royal Oxford hotel. The menu is centred on free-range beef, and customers are encouraged to watch the chefs cooking their order in the open-plan kitchen. They can also taste a range of wines.

Business has been building up well in the evenings and at breakfast, and the restaurant management has been working hard to improve lunchtime trade.

In the long term, the company is hoping to build up a chain of about 15 restaurants over the next few years.


17 Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HU
Tel: 01865 793793
Web site:
Managing director:
Stuart Campbell
General manager: Saher Sidhom
Seats: 150
Average spend: £22-£25
Average weekly sales in February: £17,250
Average weekly covers in February: Breakfast: 158; lunch: 167; dinner: 565
Average weekly sales in March: £16,815
Average weekly covers in March: Breakfast: 156; lunch: 178; dinner: 527

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