How to use national food holidays to capture new customers and promote your restaurant [Free Calendar Listing]

Every year, there are hundreds of national food holidays that encourage people across the United States to band together in shared affection for everything from spaghetti (January 4) to dumplings ( September 25). While these holidays seemed tailor-made for fun, they’re actually designed for restaurants to use as springboards for themed marketing campaigns.

Using national food holidays as inspiration, you can create entertaining and eye-catching promotions that reach new customers and re-engage loyal diners who may need a little extra nudge to schedule their next visit. 

To help you leverage the power of national food days, we’re sharing our top marketing tips for restaurants as well as a free calendar listing to kick start your strategy.

Create promotional offers aligned to a national food holidays

Food holidays are prime time for freebies and discounts. These deals are so popular, publications like Delish incorporate entire articles into their content calendars detailing which holidays and which establishments are hosting the most entertaining events, offering the best deals or sharing the funniest ads.

The key is to create promotions that match your branding while keeping the light-hearted nature of national food holidays in mind. In other words, embrace the silliness as long as your messaging doesn’t stray too far away from what your core customers have come to know, love and expect. This way, you have an opportunity to reach out to new customers while also re-engaging with the people who may be familiar with your restaurant but haven’t visited or ordered take out in a while.

Not sure how to get started with National Food Holiday Promotions? Restaurants that partner with Grubhub gain access to free-to-use promotional and marketing tools that enable you to run specific promotions and offers designed to reach new customers and drive order volume for your restaurant on the Grubhub Marketplace. 

Some offers you may consider running during a national food holiday include:

  • Free menu item: Allow customers to redeem a specific free item with their purchase, such as a free slice of pie for Apple Pie Day (May 13) for every entree
  • Free menu section: Highlight a specific area of your menu, perhaps discounting all your pastas for National Tortellini Day (February 13)
  • Dollar-off: Offer a fixed amount of money off for new customers during a national food holiday, giving $1 off everything with fries in honor of National French Fry Day (July 13)
  • Percentage off: Choose a fixed percentage off orders during a national holiday, like advertising 10% off all brunch takeout and delivery on Better Breakfast Day (September 26)

Free delivery: If your restaurant offers self-delivery, you can foot the bill for all delivery fees during a national holiday, tempting customers to order from your café on National Frappe Day (October 7)

Use social media to share your new promotions

Social media is a powerful tool for restaurant owners because it’s immediate, it’s direct and it costs as little or as much as you want. Use organic posts like behind-the-scenes photos to gain traction or use some of your marketing budget to take advantage of paid advertising on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

What’s important is to make sure you have a presence — with 45% of U.S. diners saying they’re tried out a new restaurant based solely on the restaurant’s posts on social media, you have to be online to be in the running. Sharing deals based on national food holidays is a smart way to boost engagement and get noticed.

Run a social media contest

People love to win stuff. Even if they don’t come out on top, studies show that consumers are more likely to engage with a post if that post is promoting some kind of contest. In fact, contests convert at a rate 3.7% higher than posts with other non-contest CTAs. Instagram contests are similarly popular, with contest-related posts getting more than triple the likes and 64 times more comments than other types of posts. That’s a major engagement.

Take advantage by running contests that encourage interaction, such as asking food trivia questions and counting each commented answer as an entry, requiring users to like and share your post to win, or asking followers to tag a friend in your post as part of their entry.

Use food holiday hashtags to reach new audiences

Because national food holidays are a coast-to-coast affair, there are often trending hashtags you can use to ride the wave of popularity and get your restaurant into the national spotlight. Hashtag marketing is a solid strategy any time of year, but jumping on a trending tag like #NationalGazpachoDay or #EataRedAppleDay requires little build up or consistency on your part. The audience is there, all you need to do is tap into it.

You can easily find trending tags either by looking in the trending tag section of your Instagram app or by starting off a hashtag in your post and letting the platform’s text prediction function offer suggestions. Pair obvious tags like #PieDay with other popular foodie hashtags like:

  • hangry
  • foodgram
  • yummy
  • foodies
  • instafood
  • foodstagram
  • eatingfortheinsta
  • taste this 

Don’t forget about your local tags too, like:

  • EatAustin
  • SanDiegoFoodie
  • VegasEats
  • DetroitFood
  • ClevelandRestaurants

Promote your online ordering site on social media to drive sales from your national food holiday campaigns

Most promotions work best when you remove any possible hurdles that stand between your customer and the order button. In the world of online ordering, that means making it as easy as possible for diners to find your menu, put their food in their virtual cart, and pay up.

When you share your promotional posts on social media, offering customers the ability to order directly from you can help you drive more sales through your national food holiday campaigns.  

And guess what– Grubhub can help. Grubhub Direct is a commission-free platform designed to help you reach loyal diners and build your online brand.  With Grubhub Direct you can drive customers to your very own online ordering website, customized just for your restaurant.

Concentrate on food holidays that make sense for your restaurant

Incorporating national food holidays into your marketing is a huge opportunity for growth and engagement, but it can also damage your brand if you aren’t careful about which holidays you choose. Every holiday you opt to promote should fit your brand and your menu. It doesn’t make sense to launch a huge National Hot Dog Day campaign if your menu is classic French.

Start with your own concept and see which food holidays feel like an authentic fit.

Build national food holidays into your restaurant marketing strategy

To make your national food holiday promos as effective as possible, tie them into a larger restaurant marketing strategy that looks at the big picture, not just a single opportunity. A restaurant marketing strategy is a formal plan that documents, tracks, and analyzes all your marketing efforts and activities. The goal is to find ways to build brand awareness, attract new customers, expand your market, and nurture customer loyalty. 

You may get lucky with random acts of marketing, but using a strategy ensures your plan is cohesive. You won’t miss days or accidentally repeat yourself, and you’ll know exactly what should be posted when. To help you along, we’ve created a complete calendar listing all the annual national food holidays and it’s available for FREE below.

Use your new calendar to create a new marketing plan or amplify your existing one, and national food holidays could be your next step toward increased sales and a wealth of new customers.

Eager to get ready for your next national food holiday promotion? Sign up with Grubhub for Restaurants to access powerful promotional and loyalty tools today!

Free National Food Holidays Calendar Listing

We’ve picked some of the most popular national food holidays for you to leverage for your own marketing promotions!

January

National Spaghetti Day, January 4

National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day, January 14

National Bagel Day, January 15

National Cheese Lover’s Day, January 20

National Pie Day, January 23 

National Chocolate Cake Day, January 27 

National Blueberry Pancake Day, January 28

February

National Hot Chocolate Day, February 1

National Tater Tot Day, February 2

World Nutella Day,  February 5 

National Fettuccine Alfredo Day, February 7 

National Tortellini Day, February 13

National Cherry Pie Day, February 20

March

National Pancake Day, March 1

National Meatball Day, March 9 

National Ravioli Day, March 20 

National Cheesesteak Day, March 24

International Waffle Day, March 25

April

National Deep Dish Pizza Day, April 5

National Burrito Day, April 7 

National Empanada Day, April 8 

National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day,  April 12

National Cheddar Fries Day, April 20 

National Cherry Cheesecake Day, April 23

National Blueberry Pie Day, April 28 

May

National Hoagie Day, May 5

National Coconut Cream Pie Day, May 8 

National Barbecue Day,  May 16

National Pizza Party Day,  May 20 

National Blueberry Cheesecake Day, May 26

National Hamburger Day,  May 28

June

National Cheese Day,  June 4

national Donut Day, June 4

National Egg Roll Day,  June 10

International Sushi Day,  June 18 

July

National Fried Chicken Day,  July 6

World Chocolate Day,  July 7 

National French Fry Day, July 13

National Mac and Cheese Day,  July 14

National Ice Cream Day,  July 18 

National Hot Dog Day, July 21

National Chicken Wing Day, July 29

August

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, August 4

National Fajita Day,  August 18 

National Waffle Day,  August 24

September

National Cheese Pizza Day, September 5

National Linguine Day,  September 15 

National Guacamole Day, September 16 

National Cheeseburger Day,  September 18 

National Pepperoni Pizza Day,  September 20 

National Dumpling Day, September 26

October

International Coffee Day, October 1

National Taco Day, October 4

National Noodle Day,  October 6

National Pierogi Day,  October 8 

National Sausage Pizza Day, October 11

National Pulled Pork Day, October 12

World Pasta Day, October 25 

National Pumpkin Day, October 26

November

World Vegan Day, November 1

National Sandwich Day,  November 3

National Nachos Day,  November 6 

National Cappuccino Day, November 8 

National Fried chicken Sandwich Day, November 9 

National Cake Day, November 26

December

National Cookie Day,  December 4

National Brownie Day,  December 8 

National Pumpkin Pie Day,  December 25

National Bacon Day, December 30