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Finding unique and memorable ways to celebrate Mother’s Day is no easy task. This year, put aside the gifts and give Mom what she really wants: to be surrounded by family.

More than 87 million adults in the United States planned on dining out for Mother’s Day in 2018, with nearly half anticipating a dinner outing and 59% split between lunch and brunch.

But that steady stream of patrons aiming for a dine-in experience means long lines and even longer waits. For owners and operators, Mother’s Day is an opportunity to find new ways to satisfy dine-in crowds while also diversifying your revenue streams to put delivery and carryout options front and center.

How to create Mother’s Day restaurant specials

To stand out in the digital world, you’ll need an enticing menu, user friendly aesthetics, and lots of promotions. We’ve put together the best tips on the best ways you can boost mother’s day restaurant sales and make your restaurant ideas for Mother’s Day truly count.

1. Make it all about Mom

Kids aren’t the only people who can make Mother’s Day special. Transform your eatery into a Mother’s Day restaurant by positioning it as a prime place for moms to spend their dedicated day. How? Try incorporating and advertising little touches that speak directly to the VIP (that’s Mom, of course).

Consider handing out flowers or a complimentary mimosa as a welcome gift. Have staff members sign blank Mother’s Day cards and leave Mom-themed wrapped chocolates on the check presenter for a sweet end to each meal.

2. Set the scene for a Mom-centric celebration

They say diners eat with their eyes first, and that same concept applies to how we enjoy a special event like Mother’s Day. The minute guests enter your restaurant, they’re on alert for anything signaling that today is not like any other day.

Start by sprucing up your entryway with potted plants, floral garlands, and signs in spring colors. Carry over some of those flowers to your tabletops, bar, and POS/hostess stands for a more cohesive look.

Wondering which flowers mean the most on Mother’s Day?

  • Hot pink roses represent femininity, strength, and gratitude
  • Red tulips signify love
  • Purple tulips symbolize royalty (after all, Mom is a queen, right?)
  • Pink hydrangeas represent love and sincerity
  • Pink carnations also stand for love and gratitude
  • Gardenias were used in Victorian times to send a message to recipients: “You’re lovely!”

Other changes like a temporary layout change are less about eye appeal and more about functionality. Adding larger tables to accommodate families will make it easier to transition between reservations and cater to walk-ins.

Whatever decorations you come up with, be sure every element stays true to your restaurant’s roots and core concept. If it feels like you’re trying too hard, you might be. Still, it’s hard not to find the joy in adding a carnation stem or Mother’s Day sticker to your front of house team’s name tags, and guests will likely agree.

3. MOMosas: Bar specials for Mother’s Day

What’s a Mother’s Day brunch without mimosas? Moms are on call 24/7, but for a few hours it’s their time to savor French toast and home fries while sipping on a bubbly cocktail of their choice.

A specialty mimosa or Bellini made with fresh fruit puree is simple to execute yet perfectly memorable. Also include Mother’s Day specials without alcohol for those who might not want to indulge. Think sparkling water with some fruit-infused simple syrup and a fun herb-and-fruit garnish or a fancy coffee drink with some latte art on top.

If you’re planning on offering Mother’s Day drink specials as part of your to-go and delivery programs, check out our guide to adding alcohol to your Grubhub delivery menu.

4. Use food trends to inspire a special Mother’s Day pre-fixe menu

Because Mother’s Day is such a popular day to dine out, your staff coverage waitlist may be longer than usual. However, this also presents a major opportunity for your restaurant.

Offering a Mother’s Day pre-fixe menu reduces the amount of stress directed at your team and allows them to work with hyper-efficiency. Sticking to a small yet special menu makes it easier for wait staff to explain new dishes, easier for guests to decide what to eat, and easier for kitchen staff to nail execution.

A special menu also delivers that all-important feeling of exclusivity. This is the only day diners can enjoy a Strawberry Spinach Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette or Bourbon Vanilla French Toast with Brûléed Bananas. It not only sets your restaurant apart from the competition, but it also sets your restaurant apart from itself — today is the only day for this menu, and if you snooze, you lose.

To create your menu, look to both your existing cuisine and 2022 food trends. Knowing apple pecan chicken salads just experienced a 287% jump in popularity or that poke nachos are having a definite moment could help you put together a few dishes that are timely yet still representative of your brand.

5. Include professional photography to capture memories as they’re made

Ask a mom for pictures of her kids and be prepared for an avalanche of posed and candid photos of her littles in every scenario imaginable. Ask her for pics that include her and you may be waiting quite a while.

Most moms will readily admit that they’re almost always the ones taking pictures, only rarely appearing on the other side of the lens. That’s why hiring a professional photographer to make the rounds in your restaurant on Mother’s Day is such a smart (and thoughtful) play. Entire families are already dressed up and out to eat together — you’re just giving them access to someone who knows how to preserve the moment.

Up the ante with a dedicated photo spot that’s ideal for both professional shots and Instagram selfies. Either put up a temporary backdrop or spruce up a suitable space (think brick wall or vine-draped trellis) with extra decorations and direct guests there while they wait for their table or as they make their way out of the restaurant post-meal.

6. Offer discounts on reservations

With more and more people getting back to on-premise dining, expect Mother’s Day reservations to come in fast and furious. Get the edge on neighboring business by making it easy for guests to book a reservation and adding on an incentive — a free appetizer or 10% off for reservations made at least a week before the big day — that gives locals yet another reason to spend Mother’s Day with you and your team.

For delivery, take full advantage of Grubhub’s promotions and loyalty tools to target the right customers and drive growth. You can offer special discounted menu items through the Grubhub Marketplace and connect with hungry locals eager to save while still indulging in a meal Mom will love.

7. Don’t forget about the kids

Moms are at their happiest when their kids are happy, so don’t forget about the little ones while you’re busy designing Mother’s Day restaurant specials for all the adults.

If the pre-fixe menu you’ve created doesn’t feel quite right for kids, add a child-friendly option or two like smiley face pancakes or French toast sticks with a fun dipping sauce. Highchairs are essential, but so are activities that help keep kids occupied while Mom gets to enjoy her meal in peace. A Mother’s Day coloring sheet and crayons are good for almost any age group and Mom can take the artwork home as a keepsake afterward.

Other ideas include:

  • Mom-themed Mad Libs printouts for older kids
  • Sticker sheets and paper placemats
  • Small fidget toys (extra affordable when bought in bulk)
  • Interactive food kits like sugar cookies with a small icing packet and condiment cup of sprinkles
  • Activity sheets like “find the difference” pictures, word searches, and tic-tac-toe grids

How do you promote Mother’s Day?

Once you’ve prepped your team and your restaurant for the beautifully controlled chaos that is Mother’s Day, it’s time to promote everything you have in store for your guests.

Email your customers

Email marketing is still one of the strongest ways small-to-medium businesses can communicate with consumers. For every dollar spent on emails, brands can expect an average ROI of $42.

Restaurants can use email to share Mother’s Day restaurant promotions, encourage customer engagement, and build loyalty. Send subscribers an email detailing your Mother’s Day plans — menu, entertainment, freebies, etc. — and include a link to your Grubhub Direct site for good measure. Want to see a lift in your number of subscribers? Share your Grubhub Direct link on social media and post it on your website and Google Business Page as well.

Grubhub Direct is a customized online ordering site that enables you to receive commission-free online orders directly from customers, but it also gives businesses like you access to customer data so you can continuously build your email list.

Check out Grubhub Direct to learn more about launching your own commission-less ordering website — it’s free to use, always!

Hint at the new atmosphere you’re creating

A picture can tell a thousand words, so why not use your social media accounts to give your followers visual hints as to what Mother’s Day will look like at your restaurant?

Combine fun video clips showing your team in action behind the scenes with eye-catching Mother’s Day graphics you can DIY through apps like Canva to get customers excited and ready to book a reservation.

Work in tandem with your vendors — florists, photographers, etc. — to include cross-promotional opportunities as well. Share each other’s Mother’s Day posts and you’ll increase your audience instantaneously.

Increase engagement through Instagram stories

Drive awareness for your restaurant and Mother’s Day in particular using banded graphics and photos on Instagram stories. Around 58% of Instagram users say they’re more interested in a brand after seeing that business featured in a Story, which means the information you choose to share has actual staying power.

While you may focus on static pictures or short videos in your Instagram feed, Stories are where you can fuel engagement through polls and quizzes. Ask your followers about their favorite Mother’s Day gift of all time or what they want this year or ask them for three words that best describe being a mom.

You can even hold a mini contest through your Instagram Stories. Use each frame to ask a mom-related trivia question. Anyone who gets the answers right gets a special discount to use on Mother’s Day delivery orders.

Give repeat diners a special discount

How important is customer loyalty? It costs as much as 7x more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, and increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by anywhere from 25% to a whopping 95%.

Keep your existing audience happy by giving repeat diners a discount of their own. Leading up to Mother’s Day, use Grubhub’s promotions and loyalty tools to create Mother’s Day specials.

Use local influencers to drive traffic to your page

The only group more powerful on Mother’s Day than actual moms are moms that are also influencers. Mom bloggers are fonts of information, telling their fellow parents about deals on toys, new restaurants that cater to kiddie clientele, and activities that are suitable for keeping the whole family entertained.

Working with local influencers can give your business a surprising amount of exposure and legitimacy. It’s essentially getting an endorsement for someone who already has authority with your target audience. They’ll help get your message out and assist with lead generation; in return, you might give them a discounted meal or a comp reservation of their own on Mother’s Day.

Use Mother’s Day restaurant specials to connect with crowds already eager for a delicious meal

Interweaving a strong strategic marketing plan with Mother’s Day restaurant promotions can help you make the most of special events while celebrating the person they love most.

Even better, these Mother’s Day promotion ideas for restaurants can be applied to other key events like National Food Holidays too, turning everything from cheesecake to garlic into fodder for your marketing efforts. 

Be sure to download our guide to all the National Food Holidays here and use the sign-up form below to get more restaurant tips and tricks delivered straight to your inbox.