Mother’s Day is the #1 most popular holiday for dining out, besides Valentine’s Day. And it’s right around the corner.
That said, time's running out to launch your last-minute restaurant Mother's Day promotions!
You only have so much time to fill up your restaurant reservations for Mother’s Day. You only have so much time to plan decor, menu, and dining promotions - if you haven’t already. You only have so much time to decide how you’re going to delight the 37% of consumers who plan to dine out on Mother’s Day, according to a survey by The National Restaurant Association.
Many restaurants simply offer a 15%-20% discount for women on Mother’s Day. To me, that seems like the lazy way out. There are so many ways to go above and beyond with your Mother’s Day restaurant marketing.
Whether you’re a fine dining, fast casual, quick service, or buffet style restaurant, these Mother's Day dining promotion ideas from across the U.S. should inspire you to spice up your restaurant marketing this holiday.
Mother's Day Dining Statistics
Before delving into tips from restaurants, let's take a look at this infographic on Mother's Day dining statistics from The National Restaurant Association to learn more about the demographic that will be visiting your restaurant on Mother's Day.
15 Mother's Day Dining Promotion Ideas
Read below for 15 Mother's Day dining promotion ideas from restaurants across the U.S.
Reminder to patrons: Always double-check with a restaurant if they're running a Mother's Day special when calling to reserve. The restaurant may have run a promotion last year, but have since changed their marketing strategy.
1. Offer a special meal for Mom.
Let's start with the most obvious. Offer a special meal for Mom!
A few years ago, Paris Creperie in Boston ran a promotion called Bring Your Mom to Paris.
Here's how it worked: Son or daughter could bring Mom to Paris Creperie. With the purchase of one crepe, Mom receives her crepe for free.
"And what's classier than a Nutella crepe with strawberries and powdered sugar? Nothing!"
This kind of promotion is especially great for quick-serve restaurants, who can quickly whip up a special meal for mom. Fine dining or full service restaurants could also offer a free dessert or a free appetizer.
2. Stock up on surf & turf.
Think Mom wants a salad or a brunch buffet for her day? Think again.
Survey says mothers want to (rightfully) splurge on their day, with only 1% planning on ordering a salad on Mother's Day and only 2% intending to order a sandwich. Instead, moms want steak, seafood, and international cuisine - according to the NRA.
If you already offer these menu items - great! Promote them with your special Mother's Day menu on social media and your website to draw in visitors, and make sure you order enough for your inventory on this busy day.
If you don't offer these items, talk to your chefs and food distributors to see if cooking up a Mother's Day special is in the realm of possibility.
3. Partner with a charity or non-profit.
No one gives more than mom. In the spirit of Mother's Day, partnering with a charity is a fitting way to both bring in business and help out a great cause.
For example, Sbarro Pizza partnered with St. Jude's to give 50 cents of every slice to the charity.
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Whether it's an international advocacy program or a local food shelter, partnering with a charity or non-profit will be a welcomed part of your restaurant's Mother's Day agenda.
4. Host a cooking class or special event.
Boston's Mei Mei Street Kitchen served no food from 2-5pm on Mother's Day last year. Instead, guests got to come in and make it themselves! They hosted a dumpling making class in the afternoon and even partnered up with a charity for the event!
If you want to make Mother's Day extra special in your restaurant, take things a step further and create an activity on top of the meal. Your guests will create memories in addition to a great holiday meal.
5. Make a game out of it!
The National Restaurant Association also found that moms want to keep it casual on Mother's Day, so have a little fun on Sunday!
Last year, Bareburger gave a free dessert to every mom who gave their server the "secret password" (it was sweet mama bear, for the record). This was a fun and simple social media post that encouraged more visitors for Bareburger (that was shared and liked several times).
6. Shower mom with Mother's Day gifts.
OK, so we already discussed giving Mom free food on Mother's Day. But what about free gifts? Many restaurants set themselves apart by giving away flowers, gift cards, chocolates, and more on Mother's Day.
For example, Church's Chicken offered a special deal in 2015 to families dining out on Mother's Day. Between May 8 to May 10, they gave away a free 20-piece box of the brand's signature OREO Biscuit Bites with the purchase of a family meal.
"We could think of no better way for families to 'Have The Love' than by giving moms everywhere a break from cooking and a sweet treat on her special day," said Mark Snyder, Chief Marketing Officer of Church's Chicken.
7. Offer high tea at your restaurant.
What's more refined than high tea? Moms with a penchant for classy outings may be attracted to your restaurant if you offer high tea, or afternoon tea, to patrons.
You can even include miniature versions of your signature dishes on your high tea tray. The tray starts at the top with appetizers (scones), entrees (usually finger sandwiches), and then desserts (pastries). You could create your own variation of the high tea menu, and pair it with a more filling meal.
8. Make the most of Mother’s Day brunch.
Mother's Day will always be notorious for brunch. Even if your restaurant doesn't normally serve brunch, this holiday could be a great opportunity to try something different.
Elephant Walk in Boston, for example, created a special menu for Mother's Day, fusing their Cambodian and French cuisine with brunch options such as omelets and waffles.
9. Enhance the mood with live music.
Families with kids over 13 (48%) and diners over 65 (41%) may appreciate the mood that live jazz, acoustic covers, or even rock music can offer.
This is an especially good Mother's Day dining promotion idea for bars, who may find it difficult to attract guests on this holiday. Don't market to families with small children, as they won't feel a bar is appropriate. Instead, invite musicians to perform and market your establishment as a "classy" choice for Mother's Day brunch or drinks.
10. Get creative with prix-fixe menus.
As always, the right prix-fixe menu can have a big impact on your bottom line. By using menu costing techniques, you can price your prix-fixe menu with historical data in mind, and set a goal for your amount of prix-fixe orders and prix-fixe sales on Mother's Day.
For example, Harvest, a fine dining restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., is offering a three-course prix-fixe Mother's Day brunch menu highlighting their commitment to fresh New England cuisine. With an adequate amount of choices for each course, as well as an option to include wine pairings with each dish for $25 extra, Harvest is sure to garner many restaurant reservations this Mother's Day.
11. Be prepared to accommodate kids and older adults.
Mother's Day is the #1 holiday for restaurants because families large and small tend to celebrate it by going out to eat. Compare this to Valentine's Day: most people have a mother, but not everyone has a significant other.
This means that your family should be prepared to accommodate young children and elderly adults. Have high chairs and special children's menus available. You may even want to cordon off a section of the restaurant for families with kids, as the noisiness can affect the ambiance of your restaurant. Finally, make sure that you have accommodations for all food allergies and that your servers know which food items contain nuts, dairy, and other common allergens. Some restaurant POS tablets, such as Toast, have an “item detail” function that pulls up important details and notes about specific dishes, so servers don't have to run back and forth to the kitchen for this information.
12. Give free food to Mom.
Here's another way to treat Mom: serve her some free food!
Beef O'Brady's, for example, allowed Mom to eat free last Mother's Day if guests made a purchase of equal or greater value.
"At Beef O'Brady's, we've seen a lot of great moms over the last 30 years... We want to help you reward yours for being the best."
In order to create some buzz around this offer, Beef O'Brady's also issued a press release about the promotion, highlighting the fact that the restaurant is a child-friendly destination as well.
13. Spruce up the restaurant with Mother’s Day decor.
If appropriate, you can add minor changes to the restaurant's decor on Mother's Day. As Mother's Day is a spring holiday, place flowers on the table. In fact, why not order special napkins, tablecloths, or candlesticks for Mother's Day?
Small changes to the restaurant decor do not have to affect your entire concept. Sometimes, just changing out napkins or tablecloths can offer a new atmosphere for this holiday. For inspiration, check out these learn what works and what doesn't when it comes to restaurant decor.
14. Raffle off some Mother's Day prizes.
Mattenga's Pizzeria, a pizza shop in Schertz, Texas, raffled off a few prizes to lucky mothers on Mother's Day in 2016.
Ten winners won a "Family Size 2 Topping Pizza," two mothers won a May Kay gift basket, and one received a four-hour cleaning coupon..
This promotion engages guests at the restaurant, keeps them engaged on social media, and also brings them back to the restaurant when it's not a holiday, creating loyal customers.
15. Regardless, share the love on social media!
Even if you're not running a special on Mothers' Day, remember to share the love on social media! Here's Chicago Bagel Authority with a cute picture of a family of bagels. Yum!
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What's your favorite Mother's Day dining promotion?
Share your tips in the comments below, including what's worked and what hasn't worked for your restaurant!