PR Machine: Save the Dates

How to take advantage of food holidays in your restaurant, with calendar.

National Boston Cream Pie Day? World Vegetarian Day? National Biscuit Month?

Food HolidaysAs anyone with a Twitter feed knows, it’s the golden age of food holidays. Whatever you’re serving, there’s likely a food holiday to help promote it.

Although most food holidays were created by marketers and trade groups, diners love them. They provide a guilt-free excuse to indulge. International Coffee Day lands on September 29, but what day isn’t a coffee day? And although National Deviled Egg Day is hardly a holiday, egg sales rise on November 2.

Operators who dismiss these celebrations are likely losing out, considering that a few low-cost specials and some simple online marketing can attract droves of customers on an otherwise slow day. If you’re planning a trip down holiday road, look out for these possible roadblocks.

Don’t Forget About Upscale Diners

Lunar New Year (late January or early February) is a major event for the Michelin-star restaurant chain Hakkasan, says its executive vice president of global restaurants Gert Kopera. Hakkasan, which has 12 locations, develops special menu items, fashions innovative decor features and books traditional Chinese lion dancers. The promotion is marketed on social media with influencers and VIPs. And no expense is spared, as Hakkasan often sees a 10% jump in reservation requests for that day.

Do What You Already Do Well

For Truk’t, in Beloit, Wisconsin, celebrating National Margarita Day (Feb. 22) is an easy – sell because margaritas are already its most popular cocktail. Patrons can upgrade their margaritas with a premium tequila for the regular price of $10. Typically, the upgrade would cost $4. “So basically, we discount the mixers,” says Klaus Nitsch, vice president of restaurant operations for Geronimo Hospitality Group, which owns Truk’t. Because diners ordered food with their drinks, sales increased significantly.

Adopt a Freebie Strategy

The 4 Star Restaurant Group always capitalizes on National Pizza Day (Feb. 9) at Frasca Pizzeria in Chicago. Diners are offered one free pizza per table with the order of any entrée. More food resulted in additional drink sales, generating a 49% increase in sales. “A free pizza was a huge incentive that brought in both regulars and diners who had never visited us before,” says Josh Rutherford. “The overall sales easily made up for the cost of the extra pizzas.” Marketing the event was simple: a few media placements and TV segments, social media and emails to its rewards-member list.

Give Them What They Can’t Have

Rich Clark’s C&S Chowder House in Roswell, Georgia, runs its Clam Jam on March 31, National Clam Day. For the past two years, the event boosted revenues by 30% – thanks to special menus, $5 pints, live music, and two discounted specialty cocktails that sell for $8 rather than $15. Good clams aren’t easy to find in the Atlanta area, which attracts Northeastern transplants. Clark promotes the event a month in advance with table tents, check inserts, social media blasts and media mentions with help from a PR firm. “I always pooh-poohed these national holidays,” Clark says, “but now, when I look at our Clam Day numbers, all I can say is, ‘Wow.’"