15 Ways to Run a Mother's Day Restaurant Promotion

By: Allie Tetreault and AJ Beltis

11 Minute Read

Apr 29, 2019

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On Mother’s Day, 87 million people will eat at a restaurant. With less than two weeks left until the holiday, here are a few ideas to get more mothers and their families into your restaurant this Mother's Day.

Mother's Day Dining Statistics

According to the National Restaurant Association, 47% of moms say having a meal with their families is the gift they most want for Mother's Day. An additional 10% want a restaurant gift card. These numbers represent a huge opportunity for your business to capture new guests, re-engage existing customers, and establish your reputation.

While Mother's Day brunch is commonly seen as the most popular dining option, that's actually not the case. For all the diners who plan on ordering at a restaurant during Mother's Day, only 24% order brunch, while about 50% opt for dinner.

15 Mother's Day Dining Promotion and Menu Ideas

To stand out and capture a slice of the Mother's Day dining traffic, you'll have to do something unique that goes beyond “Mom eats free” – though it's not a bad place to start.

Read below for 15 unique Mother's Day promotions and menu 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. Take Mom Dancing

Don't forget about the moms who are always down for a night out. Slade’s Bar and Grill in Boston is throwing an afternoon-to-evening Mother’s Day dance party, with a $5 “Mamma’s sangria special” and lots of soul food options. This is the perfect way for bars and nightclubs to capture business on this traditionally family-friendly holiday.

2. Share Your Space with an Artist’s Market

Native Hostel in Austin, TX (and their accompanying bar and kitchen) are hosting a pre-Mother’s Day popup on May 4th called Mamas and Mimosas, where a dozen local artists will sell their wares. It’s a great call for the hostel because all that shopping will work up an appetite, and the hostel’s bar and kitchen will be ready to feed whoever’s around.

3. Sell Them on a Second Visit

Why should the Mother's Day love last one day only? Given the high volume of traffic your restaurant may see, use the opportunity to invite guests in for their next visit.

Fogo de Chão in Boston, MA gives a complimentary dining card to moms who eat there on Mother's Day. The card is only good for a few weeks, so it drives immediate demand for guests to return and enjoy their bottomless steak dinner. Your restaurant could offer a similar deal – a limited-time coupon or discount to create repeat business.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse also does this, with a $25 gift card given to mom after the meal. It’s redeemable until June 30th.

4. Free Dessert

It’s a classic move for a reason: No one is ever mad about free dessert. Rally Pizza in Vancouver, WA is giving moms a free dessert with a meal this year, and Shoney's Restaurants are giving moms free slices of strawberry pie. Rally’s wisely promoted this special with a Facebook event well ahead of the holiday so families could consider the restaurant in their Mother's Day plans.

5. Give A Flower to Every Mom

Offer a free flower to every mom who comes for Mother’s Day. It’s a simple but crowd-pleasing gesture, and it won’t cost you too much, since you’ll buy flowers in bulk to prepare. You don’t even have to spring for roses – any flower will make for a memorable welcome into the restaurant.

6. Keep it Casual

If your restaurant is a low-key, informal establishment, no need to try and change your vibe for Mother’s Day – 62% of Mother’s Day diners want to grab a bite at a relaxed, casual dining restaurant.

7. Stock Up on Surf & Turf

Think Mom wants a salad or a brunch buffet for her day? Think again.

Surveys say mothers want to go all out on their special 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 National Restaurant Association.

If you already offer these menu items - great! Promote them with your special Mother's Day menu on social media and on your website to draw in visitors, and make sure you order enough inventory for this extremely 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 could work.

Le Bijoux in New Orleans, LA has got the right idea: they offer a Mother’s Day brunch including an ice bar with a wide assortment of fresh seafood, a prime rib steak option, plus many more decadent items.

8. Discounted or Bottomless Alcohol

Speaking of decadence, Mother’s Day is also a great day for drink specials. City Tap Boston has a Mother’s Day brunch special selling $5 MOMosas (and they also provide a $25 gift card for a future visit – a true win-win for customers.)

Upstairs at The Gwen in Chicago, IL has a bottomless Mother’s Day brunch on their rooftop, and a very smart webpage to promote it – they give multiple options, inside and out of The Gwen Hotel, of what you can do on Mother’s Day.

9. Partner with a Charity or Non-Profit, or Represent Your Restaurant at a Charity Dinner

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.

Every year, The Hyatt Regency in San Diego partners with Mama’s Kitchen, an organization that provides food delivery services to people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other critical illnesses, for Mama’s Day, a benefit dinner starring food from 50 of San Diego’s chefs and restaurants. This year, it’s on Friday, May 10th – guests can start spoiling Mom early, and do it for a good cause.

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. It’s likely a high-profit day for the restaurant anyway – might as well share the love with a worthy cause.

10. Host a Cooking Class or Special Event

Boston's Mei Mei Street Kitchen hosts regular dumpling-making classes on Sunday mornings, and Mother’s Day is no exception. From 9:30 to 11:30, you can learn all about how to make dumplings, and you’ll have lots of dumplings to eat and take home. They also provide snacks along the way, and recipe cards to take with you.

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 enjoying a holiday meal.

11. Enhance the Mood with Live Music

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 contemporary choice for Mother's Day brunch or drinks.

Tucker Brewing Company in Tucker, GA is bringing in a gospel choir to their Mother’s Day brunch this year – but you can go with jazz, classical, or whatever type of music your guests enjoy.

12. Let Mom Embarrass the Kids

Some locations of burger chain Burger 21 give a free shake to every mom who shares an embarrassing photo or story about their kids. This year, the promotion will run from May 6th to May 12th.

13. 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 sales on Mother's Day.

St. Genevieve in Minneapolis, MN has an affordable, two-course prix fixe menu for Mother’s Day this year.

14. Raffle off Some Mother's Day Prizes

Alvin and Friends, in New Rochelle, NY, is partnering with a local artist to host a pre-Mother’s Day sip & paint brunch event which also includes a raffle. They also host a ticketed Mother's Day buffet on the big day.

15. Regardless, share the love on social media!

Whether or not you choose to run a Mother’s Day special, remember to share the love on social media! Share a graphic thanking mothers for all they do, and invite them to the restaurant to celebrate.

Keep up with the Mother's Day Rush

Do you have the right technology to handle one of the busiest restaurant days of the year? Restaurant handhelds – portable tablets for your servers – can increase revenue and table turn by 20% at peak times. Learn more about restaurant handhelds and how you can equip your staff with them this Mother's Day.

Get Ready for Mother's Day in Your Restaurant!

Make sure your team is prepped and your restaurant is booked this Mother's Day with Toast's Restaurant Holiday Handbook.

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