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A Twist on Traditional Mother's Day Service

By Piet E. Jones

Mother’s Day is here again.  A busy, chaotic Sunday that leaves both front and back of house exhausted and spent.  You’ve figured out how to maximize service, either with a prix fixe set menu or a miles long self serve buffet.  You know how quickly you can turn those tables and hope it doesn’t rain so you can utilize your patio seating. Yep, you’re ready for the big day and set to make all those mothers feel special.

Really?

If you were a mom, would a Sunday luncheon in a packed restaurant, filled with kids of all ages, extended families, not to mention muscling your way through a buffet line that looks a little worse for wear as the day progresses make you feel special?  Probably not. Yes, Mother’s Day is always going to be a busy, hectic service and moms everywhere are going to grin and bear it, saying how nice it was and thanking everyone for thinking of them.  But what moms probably want, and deserve, is a relaxing evening out.  Without the kids.  Without the in-laws.  Without the crowds.  The dining equivalent of a hot bath with candles, a glass of wine, and some exquisite chocolate.

A Mother’s Appreciation Package might be just the answer they are looking for and a way to get some of those Mother’s Day diners back in the door for a meal that better represents your restaurant and its philosophy and food.  A package that might include appetizers, entrees, dessert and a bottle of wine or, better yet, champagne all for one inclusive price.  

If you already do a date night, a weekly event with an all inclusive meal on a slower evening like a Tuesday or a Wednesday, you could pattern it after that.  An abbreviated version of the menu or dishes designed to share, along with a shortened wine list, all selected to allow the meal to be offered at an attractive price point.  For a Mother’s Appreciation Package you might want to dial it up a little.  More menu options, perhaps a slightly more higher tier wine. The goal here is not to fill seats on a slower night but to create a more memorable experience for mom.  

Obviously, prepping special dishes for people who may come in days or even weeks later is not practical.  Concentrate instead on some of you more popular dishes from your main or seasonal menus.  You might even be able to adapt some dishes from single serve to serve two.  Got a half roasted chicken?  Why not a whole one.  Maybe look to the past for a little inspiration, mixed grills fell off of menus a while back as too large and heavy for current tastes.  A mixed grill for two, however, might be just what mom and dad are looking for.  Say a portion of the today’s fresh snapper along with the hanger steak off the menu and perhaps this week’s house made sausage, not to mention a couple of your standard sides, and you’ve got the anchor for a leisurely, romantic meal - the opposite of a Mother’s Day luncheon.

Now, just because you’re using your regular menu or modifying existing dishes, doesn't mean you can’t add a few flourishes to remind mom what the dinner is about. Dishes, especially dessert, can be spruced up while plating with an extra heart or two written in sauce.  In addition to the wine, perhaps send mom a special cocktail, maybe a champagne cocktail to start or a chocolate cocktail to wrap up the meal.

To sell these packages, well, this is exactly what social media was built for.  You’re already promoting your Mother’s Day offerings on all the platforms, just slip this in as an-add on or for those who can’t make it for the big day.  What? You haven’t started promoting Mother’s Day on social media?  Get on it!  Facebook posts and tweets reminding people to make reservations. Instagram photos of the dishes you plan to offer.  Restaurant advertising was always hit or miss in the past, expensive and ineffective.  Social media works because these are the people you know want to hear from you.  A Facebook page with no activity is a wasted opportunity. A five or ten dollar boost of your posts, Facebook throttles the reach of posts (especially if you don’t post frequently), can reach more of your audience and help garner new likes.  While you want to make repeated posts promoting Mother’s Day, don’t use the same picture. Facebook recognizes that as a duplicate post and limits the number of people who see it.

Mother’s Day is one big, busy mess of a day.  It may also not be a good reflection of what your restaurant really does during a regular service.  A Mother’s Appreciation Package, reasonably priced, might be the trick to get them back for a more memorable meal and just may make them regular visitors to your eatery.