Mother’s Day: It’s About a Lot More Than Mothers

For full-service restaurants, Mother’s Day can be the busiest day of the year. If you execute it flawlessly, it can also set you up to increase your sales for the rest of the year.

Mother’s Day is a reputation maker for restaurants. Where most restauranteurs make their mistake is in focusing on making mothers happy. Of course this is part of the equation, but there are many other things to consider. The person making the reservation is the most vulnerable. The entire family is counting on them to have made the right decision and they make sure that pressure is felt. Sons and daughters are anxious to keep the grandkids well behaved and family dynamics always bring along unnecessary tensions. One hiccup in execution and these relationships can take a quick turn for the worse. Efficiency, timing, anticipation, and grace are all keys to a successful day.

Here are six ways to make sure Mother’s Day at your restaurant keeps them coming back for more.

Redesign Your Dining Room   Two top reservations are nonexistent on Mother’s Day. Push those tables together to make four tops that can become six tops when you put a highchair on each end. Once that is done use the open floor space created to introduce more tables. Build a few six and ten tops and at least one twelve top. Then rewrite your reservation sheet to match the new floor plan. Keep in mind that the first seating turns fast, the second one is just after church and turns more slowly, and the third turn is getting into late afternoon and will turn fast again. Finally plan for one hundred percent reservations, do not leave tables open for walk-ins.

Control Reservations   When guests make reservations lead them to the times you have available for their party size. Do not plan on building parties, use the table sizes you have in your new floor plan. Be sure to ask all the right questions. Find out if there are children in the party and if they require a highchair or a booster seat. Remember that highchairs may fit at a table without increasing the party size and booster seats only work in booths or chairs with arms. Make notes on the reservation so the table is set correctly without asking questions. Inquire about allergies and plan for those ahead of time. If you do not have a space available for the time requested, offer an alternative or ask if they would like to be contacted if something becomes available and put their information on a wait list. Contact all reservations at least 4 days ahead, confirm the number of people in the party and the time of the reservation. If your larger tables do not get booked (this will never happen), you can break them down on reservation confirmation day and contact smaller parties on the wait list.

Make the Rules Clear    There must be rules. They include, be on time. We will only seat complete parties and we will only hold your table for 15 minutes. Break these rules and you forfeit your spot. The size of your party cannot grow larger after your reservation is confirmed. If you need to split the check into any number of separate checks you must stay in the seat you ordered from throughout the meal. If you are splitting according to families, keep your children beside you. Timing is everything on Mother’s Day and these rules keep everything moving on time. In all my days running this shift I have only had one family that was past 15 minutes for their table and that was due to a fender bender on the way. If everyone else stays true to the rules, it is easy to accommodate that one fender bender.

Adjust Your Menu    You can easily do triple your regular covers on Mother’s Day, make your menu one that you can put out quickly. Make it smaller and fill it with items that are easy to prepare. Eliminate items that are cooked to a temperature. Decrease the amount of egg dishes and eliminate the dishes with eggs cooked however you like them. Easy brunch dishes include items like potato and egg bowls, baked frittatas or quiche, Benedict’s (pre poach the eggs and hold in ice), and French toast. Keep in mind that the number one seller in most restaurants on Mother’s Day is crab cakes. Crab is more expensive than ever, but if you can make it work, prep a lot of them, brown them on each side and keep moving. Prepare for a lot of children. Make sure you have adjusted the kid’s menu for ease of execution and make sure you have plenty of those items on hand. Don’t forget dessert. You will sell more desserts than on any other day. They should require as few steps as possible to get on the plate and garnishes should be simple.

Do Everything Ahead of Time    Anything that can be done ahead of time should be. Think about all the things that get you behind and eliminate them. Order extra ramekins and have enough scoops of butter, condiments, side sauces, etc. done to get you through the day. Prepackage ingredients in plastic bags to eliminate the need to measure and weigh major ingredients. Use hot holding boxes for items that can be made ahead and held like potato bakes, quiche, and bread pudding. Have an extra body to do nothing but keep replenishing bowls of lettuce for salads and putting desserts on plates.

Do Something Nice   Know your audience and do things they will appreciate. Automatically pouring water as guests are seated and having something on the table for them to munch (like a bread basket or beignets) goes a long way. Give moms special attention and make them feel important. Treat the person who made the reservation as equal royalty. Assess the needs of children and keep them engaged and entertained. Personalize the experience for moms by giving them a flower or a Mother’s Day card signed by their server. For the overall atmosphere this is a good day for some live but mellow music to set the mood.

These all seem like pretty regimented ideas and honestly, they are, but they will make all the difference in a smooth and successful day. You must establish the mechanics that work and then deliver on your promise of no waiting for your table to be ready, perfectly timed courses, beautifully executed dishes, and personalized service.

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