Preparing for the Holidays

Winter is coming and so are the holidays. Families and friends will be gathering for warmth around a good meal. And what better place to celebrate than a favorite restaurant? Is your restaurant ready? Here are some suggestions for preparing for the holiday season.

Spice up Your Winter Drink List

Create a special drink list for the holidays. Offer six to eight drinks which include your restaurant’s inventions as well as some old standbys. Think warm. Think colorful. When your customers see a steaming drink topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings go by, they will want one, too. Homemade Hot Buttered Rum batter is always a favorite.

Create a table tent to feature these drinks. Make it festive and eye-catching.

Many breweries offer seasonal and holiday beers that are often darker and heartier that the year-around beers. Adding seasonal beers to your list makes this time of year special. Treat your customers to “Bifrost Winter Ale” made by The Elysian Brewing Company in Seattle, or “Wassail” by Full Sail Brewing Company in Hood River, Oregon.

Wine is the perfect complement to a hearty winter meal. Promoting local wines enhances your customer’s identity to the region and the season. The Washington State Wine Club’s featured wines for November 2003 include Kestrel Vintners 2000 Estate Chardonnay from Prosser, WA and JM Cellars 2001 Merlot out of Woodinville, WA.

Evaluate Your Fresh Sheet

Your fresh sheet is another place to emphasize seasonal and holiday themes. This actually goes hand in hand with increasing your guest check average and therefore your sales.

  • Review the presentation—is it easy to read? Is it attractive? Are the menu items compelling?
  • Make your descriptions sound delicious and inviting. Inform your customers of seasonal items such as “Washington Hood Canal Oysters” and “locally grown porcini mushrooms.”
  • Are you changing out the items often enough?
  • Are you testing them for flavor and presentation? Is the staff doing this on a daily basis, so they are not only well informed but in favor of the items? I’ve seen special sales be as high as 35% of item sales with the right items.
  • Track the sales every day on the staff bulletin board. People want to see the results of their work.
  • Remember that your Fresh sheet can help define the restaurant for better or worse. Put the energy into this. Don’t be afraid to experiment. We learn by our errors.

Marketing and Promotions

The holidays are a great time to reach out to your customers through simple advertising and promotions. Promote gift certificates and gift cards, holiday parties and specials through guest check stuffers and table tents. Be prepared to make your restaurant a memorable place to celebrate the season.

Happy holidays from Restaurant Group!

If you need assistance with preparing your restaurant for the holidays, please contact us.