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 décor 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.’"