Every restaurant has some sort of routine to deal with one of the busiest days of the year — Mother’s Day.
The problem? These times are anything but routine. With restaurants either pickup/delivery only or table service being very limited, it becomes necessary to get a little creative so as not to miss such a busy day.
For the few areas of the country where you can still open doors and welcome guests, congratulations. It isn’t, however, business as usual. Servers in masks or protective shields are de rigueur while the increased space between tables has reduced your seating capacity. Table size should be capped at 4, making it easier for your kitchen to handle a busy day without staffing so they’re working cheek to jowl.
If you typically do a Mother’s Day brunch buffet, it may be wise to rethink how you approach the day. Jostling crowds vying for space in line will be a logistical nightmare to keep sanitary, not to mention creating an unsafe work environment for your staff. Keep it simple and offer a pared back menu that shows off the best you have to offer.
Most restaurants have closed dining rooms, leaving delivery or pick-up as the only options — although even these options don’t quite look the same as they did before the crisis hit.
Delivery, a growing and very convenient option even prior to the pandemic, is experiencing a bit of a backlash as consumers become increasingly aware of the costs and fees charged to both the diner and the restaurant. To avoid these fees, many restaurants have built their own online ordering system and have begun offering their own personal delivery or even targeted pick-up points, rotating through different neighborhoods on a preset schedule.
With little control over timing when the orders come in, trying to manage a busy day like Mother’s Day could throw your kitchen into chaos. Online ordering through your own site with distinct and specific pick-up times might be the best way to manage a day that is sure to be busy, and it allows you to staff and plan strategically.
Ready-to-Eat Family Meals
Streamlined service may be the best bet to get through the day. Think family meals for 2,4 or 6, with a couple of options for each course instead of purely à la carte — keeping in mind that not everyone will necessarily be an adult. Half or full roast chickens, legs of lamb, or roast pork might all be good choices for protein, while restaurants specializing in seafood might consider building a feast around a shellfish seafood tower or signature whole roasted fish.
Sides might run the gamut from fresh spring-inspired salads to mac and cheese — an easy way to please the kids in the group — while desserts might lean towards bright and fruity. For all aspects of the meal, think hard about how each dish travels. Fried foods, like french fries or fried seafood, might be popular, but unless properly vented for travel, they can end up a soggy mess. Same with desserts that might melt or just lose their lift. For hot sandwiches, serve the sauce on the side as well as any lettuce or tomato.
Restaurant owners have gotten super creative in dealing with our current situation, and one very hot trend is do-it-yourself meal kits. DIY kits are perfect for full pasta meals, with fresh pasta, sauce, and par cooked veggies like brocollini. Or try kits that contain all the components to make your own pizza, ready for the diner to finish off in the comfort and safety of their own home.
DIY kits lend themselves perfectly to Mother’s Day where the family might want to make the meal for mom or, and they fit breakfast where dishes like eggs and pancakes don’t really travel all that well from the restaurant to the home. The DIY boxes might include a dozen eggs, bread, breakfast meat, perhaps a sauce like hollandaise or even a bottle of pancake or waffle batter. You might even want to shoot for the exotic and pull together everything, including detailed instructions on how to make a Mother’s Day shakshuka.
Extra bonus? Offer the Mother’s Day kits starting the day before. This will take pressure off your staff on the big day and maybe allow you to handle a larger volume of business.
What’s Mother’s Day without a little drink to toast mom? Due to the COVID-19 crisis there’s been a sea change in many states and localities around the serving of alcohol. Where before you might be able to get a bottle of wine or growler of beer, now many areas allow for the sale of hard alcohol and craft cocktails.
For Mother’s Day you could go simple and offer a mimosa kit, with a bottle of Prosecco and jug of OJ or other juice, or you could step it up with a shot of St Germaine or Chambord. Craft cocktails, specially blended for mom and in an attractive bottle, can be a hit. Or you could jump on the frosé bandwagon — basically a rosé wine slushee — and package it up in a Capri Sun-style pouch.
You’ve got your online ordering, time slots, prepared meals, and DIY kits all ready to go. Your bartenders have prepared enough frosé to give everyone a nice blush. Have you covered everything? No. Shopping right now is a tough proposition, and you’ve got partners out there who might not be getting the traffic you are. Help them out and help boost that check average while saving your diners a trip to another shop for a Mother’s Day present. An artisanal cheese sampler from the dairy down the road might be a good option. Or have your coffee roaster put together an array of tea bags that mom might like. The local nursery could whip up a succulent in a pretty little pot. And, of course, get your florist to make some bright spring bouquets for all the moms out there.
Times right now are uncertain, and routines are anything but routine. Mother’s Day is sure to be a major touchstone as we move through this time, and restaurants are in a unique position to help people make the day special.