Holiday menus drive restaurant profits
By Willis Getchell, CEC, Lead Chef Instructor, Scottsdale Culinary Institute’s Le Cordon Bleu
The holiday season is a great time to design limited menus, for capturing the harried shopper, or those wishing to celebrate the season with family and friends. Holiday parties can be an effective way to generate extra revenue during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It also affords chefs the opportunity to develop new menu items, taking advantage of seasonal favorites.
No matter what kind of establishment you have, whether award winning fine dining restaurant, down home BBQ or a neighborhood pub, marketing the holidays can be a boon to revenues in a variety of ways. It can serve to increase traffic during the holidays, and it can attract new customers who will return after the season. You can even generate some excitement among your regular customers.
Mother’s Day is the most popular dining-out holiday in the U.S., according to a National Restaurant Association survey from 2006. Of all the respondents, 39 percent reported going out to eat. The second most popular holiday was Valentine’s Day. With the holiday season the percentages are divided between the three majors, but still significant when combined: Thanksgiving, 11 percent; Christmas, 7 percent; and New Year’s Eve 17 percent, but these aren’t the only opportunities. Capitalizing on catering and take out during the college bowl games, the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl at the end of January can extend boosted holiday revenues.
Bars and pubs can see spikes in business during the holidays, especially the evenings before the big day(s). Many people who return home for family gatherings want to visit and catch up with old friends over this period. One bar owner I know had yellow sticky notes printed with the bar’s logo and blanks for name, address and phone number for the convenience of his reuniting guests.
December can be a very lucrative month. In addition to holiday shoppers, many operators can book rooms and areas to parties. These parties’ present revenue opportunities with food and liquor to guests who may not be regulars, but if handled successfully, many of the party goers may well become regulars and return at other times of the year.
For savvy restaurateurs, the holiday season is a critical time to rake in profits. Substantial gains can be made with marketing holiday parties, special menus and bar promotions, offsetting the lean winter months.
Willis Getchell is a Certified Executive Chef with experience running his own restaurant and managing corporate and resort settings. He now shares his 30-plus years of well-seasoned experience as a Lead Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale. He is a recognized leader in his profession, receiving numerous honors, including the Institute’s 2006 Award of Excellence and the Valley of the Sun Chef’s Association Chef-of-the-Year award. He writes regularly for www.TheRestaurantExpert.com’s monthly member newsletter.