Restaurant Industry Insights

Increasing Restaurant Traffic on Memorial Day Weekend

While many of us are finding it extremely difficult to fathom, the long weekend that starts off the “summer” season is here. That means we are just about five months through 2024, and once again, time has left us awestruck.

Nevertheless, here we are. Are you ready? It’s easy to let the many holidays that affect your establishment pass you by. How many of us prepared for Mother’s Day, one of the year’s busiest days, a little too late? The good news is that you’re in the restaurant industry, which means you’re undoubtedly resilient and exceptional at last-minute planning.

So, here are a few tips to help you quickly prepare for Memorial Day weekend.

Celebrating Memorial Day

In all the excitement, it’s important to stop for a moment and remember who we’re honoring. Unlike Veterans Day, which honors all who have served in the military, Memorial Day honors those who died in service of their country, whether in battle or due to injuries sustained. It was originally called Decoration Day because of the many volunteers placing American flags on graves and memorials.

The first Memorial Day started one year after the Civil War ended, a war that claimed more lives than any other in U.S. history. This is a great day to provide military discounts. You can also donate a certain percentage of sales to a local Veteran’s charity and provide a simple way for your customers to do the same. According to HUD’s 2023 Point-in-Time, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness rose by 7.4% compared to 2022.

Specials for the Holiday

The first holiday of the season almost always requires firing up the grill. For restaurants fortunate enough to have outdoor areas, a dedicated spot creates the backyard barbeque ambiance. A variety of steaks, brats, and barbeque chicken with some of the spicy sauces today’s customers prefer are a great way to infuse your restaurant with fun and anticipation. Add live music and beautiful lighting, and you’re sure to have customers long into the night. If you haven’t updated your outdoor patio yet, now’s the time.

You can also take the backyard barbeque aesthetics up a notch by elevating the classics. Caramelized onions, mushrooms, and garlic aioli take hamburgers to the next level. High-quality hot dogs topped with grilled corn and onions, cilantro, bacon, and blue cheese provide a unique take on a classic. For some people, simpler is better, with high-quality mustards and sauces as the defining glory. When Bon Appétit performed a hot dog taste test, Nathan’s came out the winner due to their intense beef flavor with hints of garlic.

Of course, we can’t forget the summer beverages. Think red, white, and blue and create specials like blueberry bourbon smash and watermelon Moscow mules. 

Busiest Day for Delivery

According to DoorDash, Memorial Day is one of the busiest days for food delivery, surpassed only by Christmas, New Year’s, Mother’s Day, and Easter. The Friday before Memorial Day is also busy as people settle into the long weekend ahead.

Optimizing your delivery process is a good idea anytime, but particularly when expecting higher volume. You may want one staff member overseeing orders, ensuring each order is complete and has the correct items. Enhance your online menu and menus on third-party delivery services by adding special items for the occasion and updating photos.

For many, this holiday brings back memories of backyard barbeques and classic American fare, such as specialty hot dogs, hamburgers, classic potato salad, and apple pie. Delivering a burger in pristine condition is a challenge. Transporting the sauces on the side and using a corrugated cardboard box with vents can help keep the bun from getting soggy. Another option is boxes with compartments to keep items separate.

Don’t Forget Desserts

For many, holiday weekends are about going the extra mile, including an appetizer, dessert, and maybe a signature cocktail. While today’s current environment may lean toward value, the first three-day weekend of the beautiful upcoming season is definitely something special to celebrate.

Desserts filled with fresh fruit are a popular summer item. Beautiful blueberry pies and strawberry shortcakes are a crowd-pleaser, along with light and airy mixed berry mousse with blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Lemon meringue pie is also a best-selling dessert. 

Let Your Community Know

Once you have your Memorial weekend celebrations in place, let your community know via your social media channels. You can even share special codes that offer Memorial Day discounts. A contest also provides a great way to engage your guests. Invite people to post pictures of the veterans they love and thank each one for their service.

Here we go. May this be one of your best summer seasons.


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