A long time ago, in a restaurant not so far away…

The first Star Wars film was released on May 25th, 1977, and it’s safe to say it’s had a huge influence on pop culture ever since, shaping multiple generations. Now, between streaming series and theme parks, interest in the franchise is as hot as ever.

Annually, the unofficial day to celebrate all things Star Wars is “May the 4th be with you.” Fans dress in costume, eat themed foods, and rewatch the many movies and shows, so it can be a great time to connect with this devoted fanbase and drive traffic to your restaurant.

This year, May the 4th falls on a Saturday, opening up the opportunity to celebrate Star Wars all weekend long, with a kick-off on Friday and a send-off on Sunday. Here are some ideas for how to leverage this quirky holiday to drive sales.

Use the Force

Mindful characters tap into the force to anticipate their next move, so think like a Jedi and visualize what you want to see in your restaurant’s May the 4th activation. Loop in staff early in the planning process to get ideas and buy-in and leave yourself plenty of time to promote the event. Consider hosting an after-hours screening for staff to get them excited about the event.

Look at your existing menu and inventory to identify opportunities to create themed menu items. Can you repackage a menu item in a clever way with a different presentation and a new name? At the same time, brainstorm a few memorable, share-worthy exclusive LTOs that will drive guest engagement and get folks excited about what you’re doing.

Spread the Word in the Galaxy

A short, limited-time event like a May the 4th celebration can only be successful if people know about it, so start early and be persistent. Let your followers know on social media and through e-newsletters. One way to achieve this is with behind-the-scenes peeks at menu development and other preparation. Think creatively about how you want to share the news, playing on those Star Wars themes as you do so.

Send messages to local press and influencers with as much detail about your activation as possible, including times, menu items, any contests you’re running (a costume contest is always a good idea), live events, etc. At the same time, let them know why this is important to you. A writer is much more likely to share a story if it comes from a genuine place, like your lifelong love of Chewbacca or your controversial belief that The Phantom Menace is the best Star Wars movie.

Make the announcement personal to you, including quotes that press can use to share the story. If possible, host a private tasting for media, influencers, and VIP guests before the event to mobilize those folks to help you spread the word through their networks. Create a unique hashtag to make sharing easier.

A Hive of Scum and Villainy

Part of capturing the magic of Star Wars is about creating a believable setting, and there are few locations that call to mind the universe quite like the Mos Eisley cantina, known for its swinging band, stiff drinks, and occasional violence. Use the cantina as inspiration as you transform your dining room with cardboard cutouts of droids, plus crates, ropes, and metal touches to bring in the rustic vibe, in addition to low, tinted lighting setting the tone.

Play cantina music or work with a live band that can provide a Star Wars-themed performance. You could also hire local actors (or motivated staff) to dress in costume and walk around the dining room, offering photo opps and providing entertaining interactions with guests.

Young Padawan Menu

May the 4th will appeal primarily to kiddos (maybe), so keep them in mind as you build your activation plan. Create a kids menu with inspired dishes like cookies named for your favorite Wookies or corn dogs and meatballs with side character and spaceship references. Stick to 3-4 options and focus on Star Wars-inspired names and presentation. Blue milk or a blue milkshake is ideal (and try a boozy version for your Master Jedis).

One easy idea for engaging the younger audience is to purchase Star Wars merch or coloring pages and present them with the menus when a family is seated. You could also feature interactive games and activities, like a photo booth with props for even more family fun.

If you have the capacity, you can also engage kids with special contests, like an Egg Race inspired by The Mandalorian or The Phantom Menace pod race, with prizes for the winners. If you go this route, create a graphic with your schedule of events and share it far and wide.

Master Jedi Menu

Adult fans love proving that they know the most about the franchise, so a Trivia Night is bound to attract an audience. And if you go in the cantina direction, consider offering a limited-edition menu of Star Wars-inspired cocktails and mocktails. Think Toddies mixed on Hoth — a riff on a Hot Toddy with a spicy twist, a Double Sunrise — a tequila sunrise with a two-cherry garnish in honor of Tatooine’s two suns, or juice sourced by a Jawa — a mixture of coffee liquor and soda with a melon ball or lychee garnish. Use lightsaber straws and ice molds to complete the effect.

For the food menu, get creative with food from the planets of the Star Wars universe: choose a roasted species (use rotisserie chicken, game hens, or quail) or a seafood stew from a fire planet. Or, you can go more literal with food that looks like familiar icons, like a pizza in the shape of the Millenium Falcon or a mound of hummus shaped like the big man, Jabba the Hut, himself.

The most important thing about pulling off a successful May the 4th celebration is attention to detail, so develop a vision and a plan for bringing this exciting world to life in your dining room. May the 4th be with you! 

Stay Fresh And Informed

Sign up for our newsletters for information on food trends, promotions, industry tips, and so much more.

Sign Up Today