How Restaurants Can Make the Most of the Holiday Season

Posted on December 8, 2010
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During the holidays, people are occupied, strapped for cash and potentially out of town, so bringing normally loyal customers into the restaurant may be more difficult than usual than usual. During the holidays, however, there are a few sure-fire ways to improve your chances of seeing customers come through your doors–hopefully with in-laws in tow–to celebrate the season.

  • Add some sugar and spice to your menu. Many restaurants change their menus periodically, but when it comes to the holidays, restaurants have the opportunity to offer something truly special. Instead of the plain-Jane dessert menu, spice it up with a modern twist on apple pie, or try an assortment of gourmet Christmas cookies. Provide a special offering on the entree menu, too–a holiday roast or turkey dinner with all the fixins’. We took a cue from local favorite, Rise & Shine Biscuit Kitchen and Cafe, a biscuit and coffee shop that started offering homemade pumpkin pies during the recent Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Open up banquet space for groups and parties. Nothing says “holiday” quite like a group of co-workers getting together for an after-work, pre-weekend happy hour. If they are going to go out somewhere for a holiday celebration, why not make it your place? If you have a banquet room or other large dining space available, offer it up to groups for 10% off, or create a special dinner menu at an unbeatable price. Entice local businesses, small family gatherings or groups of friends to spend time around the holiday in your restaurant, and you’re not only bringing in more business, but you might just be providing the setting for the start of an annual tradition.
  • Plan special offers and events. The holiday season is a time when people have their eyes and ears peeled for special deals, limited time offers, and low prices. You might be able to offer all three rolled into one, with a special holiday event or limited time offer. This might involve a one-night holiday wine tasting at the bar, or a special dessert sampler menu only available to the first 10 people who make a reservation on a particular night. If you can get the word out, and appeal to the urgency and curiosity in people, special holiday offers can prove extremely profitable. One example comes from Denver landmark, the Bull & Bush Pub and Brewery, who will be offering the Bull and Bush Holiday Beer Tasting event this month as a special event to encourage guests to come in, try a new type of beer, and wear their ugliest…er, best Christmas sweater.
  • Promote those holiday gift cards. Promoting holiday gift cards is a great way to upsell product during the holidays, as well as bring in extra foot traffic. Customers often come into restaurants, both independent and chain restaurants, solely to purchase gift cards. This is a great way to encourage them to stay for a meal, or to buy a gift card themselves. Some restaurants even offer deals, where a certain purchase amount on a gift card can earn the guest a free drink, dessert, or other perk, which can make the holiday shopping seem even more fun.
  • Get in the holiday spirit. Even if you don’t necessarily change much of what you do for the holidays, a bit of holiday spirit never hurts. Put a few glittery paper snowflakes in your store windows, or hang twinkle lights on the trees outside your doors. Small decoration additions like these encourage those around you to smile and enjoy the season. After all, I’d much rather slip into a warmly lit, decorated, festive cafe for a late-night cup of apple cider than a bland, dim, boring-looking coffee house…wouldn’t you?

What gets you in the spirit when it comes to dining out during the holiday season? Do your favorite restaurants do anything special to grab your attention during this time of year?

photo credit: erin m via photopin cc

FSW Staff FSW Staff (139 Posts)

The writing team at FoodServiceWarehouse is dedicated to bringing you the freshest tips, tricks and trends for your professional or home kitchen.

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