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5 Tips for Making the Most of Labor Day Weekend in the Restaurant Industry

I know it’s hard to believe that the holiday representing the end of the summer is just a few short weeks away. Where did it go? And how can we take advantage of that long three-day weekend when many of our restaurant regulars are out of town?

Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones in the restaurant industry who opened your restaurant in a tourist town that sees a mad rush of people exploring the area on Labor Day weekend. In that case, all hands on deck! While the rest of us find a way to bring in the stragglers, your greatest challenge will be ensuring enough support in the BOH and FOH.

There is, however, a way to take advantage of the last weekend of summer, even if you’re not located in a beach town, mountain retreat, or desert hideaway. Let’s explore the trade secrets that can make this your best Labor Day yet.

Tip 1: Offer a Special Delivery Menu

When DoorDash compared the sales of two major summer holidays in 2022, Labor Day beat Independence Day. The three-day holiday generated the second-highest sales of the entire summer. Top-selling items included chicken dishes, sandwiches, pizza, and salad. 

Did someone say picnic? Undoubtedly, some of these dishes also enhanced backyard barbeques, making it easy to enjoy time with friends and family. 

DoorDash also reported on the growing alcohol delivery trend. According to their 2023 Alcohol Online Ordering Trends Report, 60% of the 500 delivery customers surveyed reported ordering alcohol more than they did the previous year. The top-selling drinks to-go were margaritas, Swirls (a sparkling alcoholic drink), Sapporo, and mimosas. El Diablo and zero-proof Armando Palmero are two other popular drinks.

Are you ready to create a Labor Day weekend special delivery menu? If you live in an area that’s legalized alcohol for delivery, consider the following:

El Diablo Armando Palmero

1 ½ ounces reposado tequila 2/3 agua de limon

½ ounce crème de cassis 1/3 agua de Jamaica (hibiscus iced tea)

½ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

3 ounces ginger beer

Some states require you to keep alcohol in its original container. If that applies to your area, think about creating cocktail kits with all the ingredients and instructions. It’s not only good for the holidays, but a definite boost throughout the year, creating the all-important additional revenue stream.

A report from Technomic and Grubhub found that 63% of restaurant operators offer alcoholic beverages on their delivery menus.

Tip 2: In-House Specials

Labor Day is all about the American worker—their contributions and achievements. Consider offering specials on American craft beers or “All American” meals. Think apple pie, Texas-style beef brisket, a special twist on mac and cheese, Maine lobster rolls, or iconic chili cheese dogs. If your brand sways toward finer dining, all these can be taken up a notch. A chili cheese dog becomes a gourmet offering when sugar, honey, and sweet paprika simmer for hours in your chili concoction. A bun becomes artisan baguettes, and hots dogs turn into kielbasa sausages. 

Consider gearing up for the holiday with a storyline on your social channels. Start with attractive images, mouth-watering descriptions, and when they can look forward to your specials. 

And, of course, don’t forget your workers. Consider offering those working on Labor Day a special meal to honor their hard work. You can also explore Employee Appreciation Day the day after Labor Day so everyone can join in.

Tip 3: End of the Season Offering

There’s a reason marketing agencies utilize the FOMO strategy or Fear of Missing Out. It’s part of our human nature—don’t miss out, get to the front of the line, and order tickets early. Take advantage of this human tendency by coming up with a summer item that will be going the way of the dodo after Labor Day weekend. 

Tip 4: Family Promotions

Depending on your target market, promoting to families may or may not be in your wheelhouse. However, because it’s the last weekend of summer, many take to their favorite restaurant’s outdoor patio with the family in tow. Market specials for kids to bring the whole family into your establishment.

Tip 5: Know Your Competitors

Do you know the specials and marketing strategies your competitors are offering? Keeping a keen eye on the happenings in and around your area helps you stay up-to-date and ahead of the curve. 

One easy way to remain in the know is through F&B Insights. This digital platform offers the world’s largest menu database, giving you your competitors’ menu and pricing information, allowing you to make informed decisions. Did the restaurant down the street add a special to their menu or a new beverage at the bar? You’ll know the minute they do through alerts sent via F&B Insights.

To learn more about this remarkable technology or to schedule a consultation, contact F&B Insights today.


Are restaurants busy on Labor Day?

Unless restaurants are in tourist central, Labor Day is notoriously slow for restaurants. Many offer specials and promotions to bring in vacationers and locals. 

Do restaurants offer specials on Labor Day?  

Yes. Some of the biggest brands have running specials every year. For instance, various Olive Garden restaurants treat local first responders to lunch. LongHorn Steakhouse Grill Us Hotline offers tips from the restaurant’s certified Grill Masters. They also provide online videos and recipes with links to their menu and online ordering.

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