Thanksgiving Eve: 11 Tips for Restaurants
September 20, 2022
Are you ready for one of the busiest nights of the year? Here’s how to prepare.
Thanksgiving Eve is known as the biggest bar night of the year. Between people needing a break from their Thanksgiving prep and out-of-towners who are home for the holidays and eager to meet up with old friends, there’s high demand for a good night out.
For restaurants, this is great news. But, it also requires planning ahead, preparing for crowds and being strategic about any specials or promotions you offer.
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How Restaurants Can Prepare for Thanksgiving Eve
From inventory management to staffing to various marketing efforts, there are a whole host of ways to ensure your restaurant is equipped for the evening. Here are eleven ways to get your team ready.
1. Update your website
Keeping your restaurant website up to date is incredibly important as it’s your digital storefront. Adding details about any Thanksgiving Eve events, specials and promotions to your website helps customers find this information more easily, especially since most guests will visit your website before they visit you in person.
Read more here: How to Optimize Restaurant Websites for the Holidays
2. Leverage your social media channels
Post about your Thanksgiving Eve happenings on your social media channels so that your followers know what’s going on. Invite your audience to join you on the Wednesday before Turkey Day to kick off the holiday. You can also run a gift card special for the day (for example, if a customer purchases $100 in gift cards, you’ll add a complimentary $25 gift card) and promote it on your social channels.
3. Make sure inventory is stocked
The last thing you want is to run out of ingredients or supplies on a busy night. Review your current inventory, make predictions about what you’ll need based on past sales data and take those metrics into account when placing your closest order to Thanksgiving Eve. If you offer takeout and delivery, stock up on to-go containers, bags, staples, logo labels and anything else you use to safely transport your food.
4. Schedule extra staff to meet demand
Supporting an increase in takeout, delivery and in person dining requires more hands, so keep that in mind when making the schedule. Try to maintain an open phone line to avoid long hold times and enable online ordering to streamline both the customer and kitchen experience.
5. Host entertainment
It’s not all about the food and drink — guests expect entertainment, too. Book a local band for live music or host a karaoke night. The goal is to keep the atmosphere lively and light to set the tone for the next day’s festivities.
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6. Offer food and drink specials
Serving half-priced appetizers, special prix fixe menus, featured cocktails and themed dishes adds a sense of celebration to the night. Work with your bar team and kitchen staff to source ideas, and don’t forget to email past guests about the specials.
7. Serve responsibly
Thanksgiving Eve is also known as Drinksgiving or Blackout Wednesday because it’s one of the heaviest drinking nights of the year. That’s why it’s essential to serve responsibly and educate your team on best practices.
Although some Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administrations permit extended holiday hours, that may not be the case in your area. Check with local officials to determine any changes that might be put in place. If there aren’t modifications, follow regular local liquor laws, don’t serve past allowable hours and be mindful of happy hour regulations.
You can also partner with rideshare companies to create a discounted code to keep customers safe. Display the promo code prominently at the bar and in the bathroom to ensure the option is clear to guests.
8. Promote holiday catering
Selling holiday catering packages in December? Use the extra in person traffic on Thanksgiving Eve to spread awareness of your offerings. Display tabletop signage with the details in the dining room or at the bar or keep a stack of cards with catering information at your host stand so guests can grab-and-go.
Read more here: The Holiday Benefits of Pre-Order & Catering
9. Coordinate a restaurant crawl
Consider partnering with nearby bars and restaurants to create a “crawl” on Thanksgiving Eve. Not only will you strengthen business and industry relationships, but it’s a unique event for guests. Make it even more fun with a punch card that provides customers with a discount or prize if they visit all of the locations in the crawl.
10. Connect with high school and college alumni groups
People often come back to their hometowns for Thanksgiving. To connect with these large groups, partner with alumni chapters to host an event or use them as a marketing channel. Alumni groups for both local high schools and colleges can distribute details to their communities about your holiday promotions.
11. Invest in restaurant technology
Get yourself ready for the influx of orders and guests on Thanksgiving Eve and throughout the holiday season by setting up your restaurant for success.
Enabling online ordering, offering digital ordering and payment at the table for dine-in customers, selling gift cards and merchandise, providing catering and hosting events are all great ways to drive revenue.
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