Though Thanksgiving and Christmas can be slow days for restaurants, the holiday season as a whole typically provides the most generous margins industry wide.
One way to capitalize on this time period is to create mouthwatering limited time offers (LTOs) that celebrate the holiday season. These specials work simply because they capture an immediate sense of urgency for the diner. Think about how trends—like pumpkin-spice—draw public awareness and generate huge buzz (and sales) when those items start popping up on menus. The same tactic can be used in special menu-planning Black Friday through New Year’s Day.
Ingredients like turkey, brisket, gingerbread, cinnamon, cranberry, and peppermint all convey a cozy, wintry seasonality. A dish like pumpkin cioppino, a riff on the popular seafood stew from San Francisco, is a great example of this. The same can be said of quick-service items like peppermint chocolate cake pops. These items speak to consumer sentimentality.
Luxury also sells. As we move closer to the new year, splurge-dining increases across the board. Who doesn’t deserve to have that once-a-year classic that would never be made at home — sublime dishes such as salmon toast, steak with a special Cognac sauce, or innovative oysters. Offerings such as these allow the diner to feel festive and fancy—and who doesn’t love that.
Finally, don’t leave your beverage program out in the cold. Besides offering those baller bottles that can be perched tableside throughout the meal, devise a drink list that can be just as celebratory but also address diners with budget concerns. Champagne cocktails and mimosas, made with lower price point sparklers complemented by freshly prepped winter fruits such as quince, persimmon, clementine, and pear, ensure a memorable toast.
Likewise, adult versions of dessert-type drinks can help put year-end beverage sales above forecast. Rich, decadent hot chocolate, spiked with bourbon, Frangelico, and Irish cream and topped off with giant, fluffy marshmallows is irresistible; as are boozy shakes with a twist.
Of course, no LTO item will be as successful without getting the word out. Push your holiday program through all communication platforms as early and often as possible. Keep your website updated, deploy emails frequently, and send menus and professional images to a media list for those holiday round-up restaurant pieces. Don’t forget to splash these signature holiday LTO items across social channels as well.