Memorial Day Restaurant Specials: 5 Winning Tactics
Update: With restaurants and businesses opening across the United States, and with a national holiday coming soon, we’ve added a little “preamble” to this article to link you to our COVID-19 Restaurant Resources Page. It provides numerous tips and tricks in navigating our new post-COVID world. Remember that in all of these tips, social distancing rules and protocol strongly apply!
Memorial Day is an important day to remember those that lost their lives while serving the country’s armed forces. According to WalletHub, over 42 million people have served the country in wartime, and 1.3 million have lost their lives in conflict. For your restaurant, it’s an opportunity to show your appreciation for fallen soldiers, as well as veterans and military families.
While many people celebrate this holiday with backyard BBQs and family gatherings, there’s still a large portion of people that’ll dine out. For many, this is the unofficial first day of summer and a three day weekend. People will want to get out and about and enjoy the weather and their time off. According to data insights and research firm, Sense360, full-service restaurants saw both a boost in traffic and engagement on Memorial Day 2017. The same study found an increase in duration breakfast and lunch visits (more than 20 minutes).
If you’d like to show your appreciation to veterans and military families on May 28 but don’t know where to start, we put together a list of our top Memorial Day restaurant specials to give you some ideas.
Make veterans and military families feel special with a promotion exclusively for them. A few ideas could be a free meal, percentage off of a meal, discounted drink, etc. Have veterans show a current military ID to obtain the discount.
In 2017, NRN rounded up the best Memorial Day food and drink specials. Here’s a couple to give you some inspiration:
- TGI Fridays offered a buy-one-free-deal on their Burger Bar menu at select locations.
- Historic Rhode Island boutique hotel Grace Vanderbilt offered a ‘Baby You’re A Firework’ Memorial Day cocktail.
- Boston Market offered three large sides for $9.99 and 25 percent off family meals.
- NYC night club Hudson Terrace offered a free happy hour party that included drink specials, food, a DJ, as well as VIP section.
Do you have a nice patio area? Make sure to let diners know! Nothing beats a relaxing day outdoors, having a meal with friends or family, especially on Memorial Day. Many people will be on the hunt for a great outdoor area (if weather permits). If you have the space for it, you could even set up activities for your guest to enjoy and keep them around a little longer. If your restaurant attracts families, cornhole or face painting could be a good option. If you have a more adult’s only crowd, how about wine or beer tasting? Pair that with some live music, and you have the perfect Memorial Day outing!
Keep It Kid-Friendly
Memorial Day will likely bring in a lot of families with children. Make sure you have a kid-friendly restaurant and enough supplies to keep them occupied. Have a good stock of high chairs, coloring pages, and crayons. To encourage families to visit, restaurants can offer discounts to veterans and kids.
The DOL found that the unemployment rate for veterans this year is 4.1%, increasing from last year’s 3.7% unemployment rate. What better way to show your support for veterans and military families than by giving back? Many nonprofits help support veterans that help support veterans and their families. There are a few ways you could collect donations in your restaurant. You could collect diners’ donations and match what they donate. Or, you could take a portion of each diners’ final bill and present it to a charity. You could even choose a few charities and let guests decide where to submit their donation.
Promote on Social Media
Whatever promotions you choose, make sure to get the word out there on social media. These holidays are also an excellent time to make sure all your information on your restaurant’s social media accounts is accurate. You’ll want to look at your phone number, address, website, and hours of operation are all up-to-date.
Even if you aren’t able to do any special promotions for Memorial Day, make a dedicated post on Memorial Day. Post pictures of veterans that visit your restaurant and encourage followers to post pictures too.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on May 11, 2018, and has been slightly updated for accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness.
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About the Author
Emily Wimpsett was a Content & Social Media Specialist at QSR Automations. Emily was born and raised in Louisville but considers herself a die-hard University of Kentucky fan. For college, Emily attended Indiana University Southeast and obtained a degree in Communications with a track in Advertising. In her free time, Emily enjoys just about every water related activity but she is partial to kayaking and whitewater rafting.