How small restaurants can start using Gemini and Mage to save marketing costs today.

One chilly morning in 2022, our small planet woke up to a future it wasn't prepared for. A mother asked a robot to write a letter to her son, explaining that Santa isn't real.

Cynthia Savard's post on X

The news went viral, sparking curiosity in the unveiling of OpenAI's prodigy, ChatGPT. The world got a taste of A.I.'s potential: crafting convincing text mimicking a human's touch. As with the letter above, sometimes it was even emotional, in an unnerving way.

Everyone felt the impact, restaurant industry included.

Although, I have to admit that restaurant owners are never the first to adopt tech novelties. But this one is impossible to disregard.

Even Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, asserts that A.I. will seep into every facet of every business. So take heed, my fellow restaurateurs!

Prompt used to generate this image: "A restaurant owner managing her restaurant's online menu, luminescence, ultrearalistic, hyperdetailed, soft lighting."

Some of your peers are already using A.I. to boost revenue and increase efficiency. And they pay next to nothing for it.

It's time for you to catch up, not in the distant future, but TODAY. 

Restaurants can soup up their game with A.I. today, without needing a tech degree to do it.

          Artificial Intelligence is not only the future of computing, it's the future of mankind.
          - Ray Kurzweil

In this guide, we cut through the jargon and show you how you can use A.I. to save time and money. Better yet, the following tips are all practical and doable right now.

(It's going to be a big one, so go get your favourite beverage before you start. We'll wait :) )

Today we'll cover:

  • How restaurants can start using Gemini and Mage
  • Why use Gemini instead of ChatGPT?
  • Why use Mage instead of MidJourney?
  • How restaurants can sign up to Gemini for free
  • How restaurants can use Mage for free
  • How restaurants can start using A.I. in 2024 (8 ways)

Note: While A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) is a very broad term, when we say "A.I." in this article, we're referring to generative AI. It can write, create audio, and make realistic images, all from simple text prompts.


How restaurants can start using Gemini and Mage

First of all, what are Gemini and Mage?

Gemini* is an AI-powered language model. It is capable of generating human-like text based on context and past conversations. It is a free alternative to ChatGPT.

Mage is an AI-powered image generator. It generates images from natural language descriptions. It is a free alternative to Midjourney

*Gemini used to be "Google Bard".


Why use Gemini instead of ChatGPT?

Gemini is free. ChatGPT is also free, but the free version's last knowledge update is September 2021 (at this time of writing).

For example: I asked for some alternatives to MidJourney and it could not give me a response. Whereas Gemini does not have that issue.

Side by side comparison of ChatGPT's (free version) vs Gemini's response to a question about MidJourney alternatives.

If you are willing to pay for ChatGPT Plus (USD $20/month), you will have access to a wider dataset so the knowledge cutoff is no longer a problem.

Feel free to use ChatGPT, Bing AI, Jasper Chat, Claude, Groq, or any other language model to follow the tips in this article. We will be using Gemini for simplicity.

Why use Mage instead of Midjourney?

Midjourney used to offer free trials, but not anymore. It costs USD $10/month for a basic plan. You also have to join Discord and that is another hurdle altogether. Midjourney doesn't live on its own dedicated site. So it uses Discord as its interface for writing prompts and sending you generated art.

Mage is free forever. And you can generate A.I. art on their website itself.

Feel free to use NightCafe, DALL-E, Craiyon, or any other A.I. art generator to follow the tips in this article. We will be using Mage for simplicity.


How restaurants can sign up to Gemini for free

  1. Go to
  2. Click on Sign in
  3. Enter your Google Account credentials. Or create an account, and follow the steps.
  4. Agree to the terms of service, click Continue
  5. Start using Gemini!

Type a prompt into the text box where it says "Enter a prompt here". A 'prompt' can be a question, a statement, or even one word. It is a starting point for Gemini and it tells the A.I. what you want it to do. You can even ask for different styles of writing, and tone of voice.

Another advantage of Gemini over ChatGPT is that you can also use it as a search engine. This way you can do research while writing your article.

Side by side comparison of ChatGPT's (free version) vs Gemini's response to finding a nearby plumber.

You'll soon find that A.I. models may not always give you accurate facts. For this reason, we recommend you use it for creative writing. Or as inspiration if you are stuck on a blank page.

Here's an example of how to use Gemini to invite an artist to perform at your restaurant for an event:

Letter of invitation to perform at an event, generated by Google's Gemini.

The letter goes on for another 2 paragraphs. If you find it lengthy, in the next prompt, type "Please shorten it". Gemini will generate a condensed version of the letter, and even offer you a few drafts to choose from.


How restaurants can use Mage for free

  1. Go to
  2. Start using Mage!

Yes, believe your eyes, that's it! You don't even need to log in to anything. You can save the generated output onto your computer and use them right away. The benefit of creating an account, though, is it saves all your past creations under your Profile.

Mage is great for churning out a brand new image of something you've envisioned.

Let's say for wall art, visualising decor for an event, or graphics for a flyer. You can also use it to "edit" photos somewhat. Upload a photo and use the 'inpainting' feature to change specified parts of the image. The A.I. will leave the rest of the image untouched.

People pictures? They might come out a bit wonky, but with some prompt juggling, you can iron out the kinks. You'll learn as you go! Not too bad for a source of free images, eh?

Prompt used to generate this image: "A restaurant owner managing her restaurant's online ordering dashboard, luminescence, ultrearalistic, hyperdetailed, soft lighting." However, you can see the right hand looks mangled.

Looking for versatility? Mage understands prompts like "in the art style of Walt Disney." But don't expect it to slap text onto an image. 

For example, we asked it to create "the logo for a cafe named 'Oak Tree Cafe'". You can see it gets the idea of the oak tree. As for the text? Not its strongest suit.

Prompt used to generates these images: "Logo for a cafe named 'Oak Tree Cafe'".

YouTube and TikTok are full of tips on how to get better at generating the perfect image. You'll be a prompt maestro in no time! If you already use stock photos for marketing, A.I. could help you save more time and money.

How restaurants can use AI in 2024

Want to know how A.I. fits into the restaurant picture? Join the club. 

It's a big question, a bit like contemplating the vastness of the internet. For now, one thing's for sure - generative A.I. is like a free intern. Shaves time and meets your budget - sweet music for cash-strapped small restaurants.

Let me set the scene right, though. A.I. isn't going to usurp your kitchen. Sure, we've seen a robot barista and a robot frying chicken. But those tech boffins haven't made a robot cook to challenge your team yet. We all know food made without feelings can never compare. And while A.I. is good for brainstorming recipes, I would not trust it 100%.

Some predict robots could nab 80% of restaurant jobs. But we're talking touchscreen ordering, servers, and repetitive tasks like grilling patties. The A.I. we're introducing you to is a different story. 

What generative A.I. can do you for is something the average restaurant staff cannot. I mean you'll be hard-pressed to find a barista who also happens to moonlight as a graphic designer? What are the chances of that, right? (I've only encountered 2 in my 13 years as a restaurateur.)

So here are 8 ways restaurants can use A.I. in 2024:

  1. Write newsletters, send marketing emails
  2. Image and captions for social media
  3. Idea generation and inspiration
  4. Use A.I. to create a framework
  5. Respond to negative reviews
  6. Do menial, repetitive tasks
  7. Brainstorm new recipes
  8. Write job descriptions


1. Write newsletters, send marketing emails

Marketing is one task that most small restaurant owners dread. But this is now a whole lot easier, and a whole less dreadful. Creating marketing content is the biggest and best thing that A.I. can do for you.

For starters - email marketing. You would send your mailing list an email a few weeks before any big holidays, events, or new offers.

Let's say you've got an upcoming promo for New Year's Eve. Here's how you can use Gemini to help you write that newsletter:

NYE newsletter generated by Gemini.

It's almost there, but to be honest, it's too long and kind of boring. You can task Gemini to shorten and sweeten it.

A condensed version of the NYE newsletter. Click on 'Show drafts' to see different versions.

You can keep tweaking until it sounds right to you. It took me a total of 1 minute to generate the emails above. Now all you need is 5 minutes to edit and add a dash of your own flair. Faster than giving an employee instructions. Plus you don't have to check for grammar and spelling!

Now for THE hardest part --- email subject lines! 

Gemini knows a thing or two about crafting click-worthy subject lines. Ask it to spit out 10 variants, sit back, then cherry-pick the one that tickles your fancy. Delegating tasks like these is where the magic of A.I. shines. 

Alternative email subject lines generated by Gemini.

Now you have no more excuses to procrastinate this marketing thing. Remember, everyone has free access to Gemini, including your competitors. So shouldn't you step up?

2. Image and captions for social media

Next in your marketing flywheel, convert that email into a caption for social media. Gemini even generates hashtags for you.

Instagram caption generated by Gemini.

And now for an image to go with that caption. This is where Mage comes in.

Prompt used to generate this image: "Cinematic scene of a cosy cafe table under a big oak tree with fairy lights at night, celebrating New Year's Eve. The incandescent light illuminates the ambience. Light and shadow, inviting."

Time taken at this point: 4 minutes. You need never neglect your social media again with A.I. as your 'content intern'. 


3. Idea generation and inspiration

Ever longed for a reliable, extra pair of hands in your work? One with the wit and insight of a bright 16-year old and a knack for instant problem-solving? That’s Gemini. You'll see what I mean once you start treating it as a bonus team member. After all, it's free! 

This bonus team member can help you brainstorm as well. Earlier on we asked it to come up with 10 different headlines. Now try it with other things like, say, you're thinking of names for that special New Year's Eve cocktail.

Cocktail names and recipe ideas generated by Gemini.


Or how to navigate through a sticky situation.

Letter to a demanding employee, generated by Gemini.


And it can also inspire and help strategise.

Tips on hiring strategy, generated by Gemini.

Bear in mind Gemini isn't some magic crystal ball. It's still a robot after all, with advanced programming that replicates human language. 

The best use of it is to unclog your mind and get your wheels turning. At the end of the day, nothing beats your wisdom and years of experience

4. Use A.I. to create a framework

Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The thing with Gemini and most language models is their writing voice is dry as chalk. It's a little too formal, like how Data of Star Trek sounds.

You can tell it to spice it up, inject humour, etc. But it won't know how to capture your brand's unique charm. It lacks that human touch. It won't sound like you.

Which is why we recommend the best use of Gemini is to create a framework - an outline or a draft of what you want to write. It's your best friend when you're having writer's block or blank page syndrome.

Once it has laid the groundwork for you, get in there and add your own flair. 

5. Respond to negative reviews

What's the best thing about being a robot, though? No feelings. 

As humans, it's hard to contain our emotions sometimes. After all, the restaurant is our baby and we want to protect it at all costs. This sometimes leads to bad decisions, like getting into arguments with strangers online. 

Response to negative review blaming the restaurant for dirty toilets, generated by Gemini.

See, wasn't that easy?

Use Gemini to respond to negative reviews in a neutral way. You won't have to work so hard at curbing your sarcasm, and your guests will feel you cared enough to write a response. 

By the way, this toilet review and the one where the employee demanded a raise? These were actual situations that happened to me in the course of my restaurant career. Boy did I wish I had A.I. to help me out back then!


6. Do menial, repetitive tasks

Writing product descriptions can be tedious and repetitive. A.I. can help to generate product descriptions that are informative and engaging. Input your menu and task it to come up with descriptions for each menu item.

Proofreading and editing can also be time-consuming and tedious. If you had written something without A.I., then use A.I. to correct errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

7. Brainstorm new recipes

A.I. language models can't yet give sound advice on safe food preparation. So, don't over-rely on any recipes it suggests. There are rumours of people who got sick from undercooked food. They followed A.I.'s instructions to the letter, and did not have the experience to know better. So take these with a pinch of salt. 

A useful rule for AI: Look to it for creative ideas, not expert guidance

Still, Gemini excels at sparking ideas for fresh dishes. It can help you name them, promote them, describe them. Once you've got a concept, you can visit Mage to try out possible platings for your menu item.

For example, here are 4 of the 10 cocktails we asked Gemini to name a moment ago.

Clockwise from top left: "Auld Lang Syne", "Clock Strikes Twelve", "Resolution Refresher", "Midnight Kiss Martini".

My prompt was, "A cocktail named [copy and paste the exact name and description of the drink from Gemini]. I did not add any other instructions and Mage knew exactly what to do.

Granted these images may not meet your standards. Couple things you can do:

  • Use an image editor to refine or sharpen the images.
  • Use these images as a guideline for your bar staff to follow. Then take actual photos once they've created the real thing.

💡 Pro tip: Launch a promotion with a punny name (like a Rib-AI Steak Burger.... Geddit?) by asking people to use Gemini to create the recipe. 

Challenge your followers to send you their prompts. You'll be the judge to see which one has potential to taste good!

Select a few finalists, and cook their recipes for a jury of tasters. Name the winning dish after the winner, and feature it as a special!

You're welcome. 


☝️ A caveat: as of this time of writing, A.I. is not yet able to 100% make a dish look exactly like what your restaurant prepares. It can do quite well with "common" dishes like a steak or a bowl of ramen, for example.

But won't work if you have unique, signature dishes that no one else serves. You'd be spending more time trying to write the correct prompt to generate the image you visualised. 

In this case, the better and faster way is still to take your own photos. Then use image editing tools to give it a scenic background or a touch of pizzazz.

8. Write job descriptions 

Your job ad's specifics can make or break your hiring process. Let Gemini do the grunt work for you.

Job description for a restaurant operations manager, generated by Gemini.


Restaurants: The oasis in an overly digital world 

Restaurants are not immune to the A.I. revolution. Even big chains use it for tasks like drive-thru orders

A.I. tech, engineered for eateries, is forthcoming. It will handle phone calls, pricing, vendor talks and more. Your business will soon adopt this tech, ready or not. 

But amidst this digital surge, tangible experiences become more sought after. NVIDIA's CEO astounded us all in 2023 when he proclaimed, "Every pixel will soon be generated, not just rendered". 

If you've watched any futuristic movies, you might have already seen this coming. Every website you visit is tailored just for you. Blend this with tailored advertising, and soon every ad features your gleeful face. Or has a face you deem attractive following you everywhere you go. 👀

Scene from The Zero Theorem (2013) where advertising follows the protagonist as he walks.


Experts believe humans may soon crave authenticity. Generated images lose their uniqueness. Nothing lasts. The real world could then become an escape, a sanctuary. And where better to reconnect with the real than in eateries offering human connections? 

So, stay on course, sailor. Fret not as restaurants may yet be the antidote to AI.

A quote from one of my favourite science fiction authors goes:

          Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
          - Arthur C. Clarke

Sixty years ago, a "FaceTime" or video call was the stuff of science fiction. Assigned to distant futures on space ships in the year 2266. But now we use it as part and parcel of any normal day; we hardly even think about how remarkable it is.

Good tech often becomes invisible, working its magic beneath our notice. 

A.I. will be similar. It's high time restaurants harness it. More creative, efficient operations without hefty prices. All so you have more time to give customers what they want – genuine, warm hospitality.


We use the term 'restaurant' throughout the article for consistency. However this guide can be generally applied to any type of food shop, including but not limited to: bakeries, bars, bistrots, boulangeries, butcheries, cafés, cantinas, caterers, coffeeshops, delis, diners, eateries, food trucks, grocers, patisseries, pubs, and more.



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