How to Manage the Mother’s Day Rush at Your Restaurant
4 Min Read By Megan Prevost
With May fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about Mother’s day at your restaurant. As you may know, Mother’s day is one of the busiest days for full-service restaurants, often resulting in huge crowds, long wait times, and an overwhelmed staff. If you aren’t prepared for the huge rush, customers may grow impatient, leave bad reviews, and be reluctant to return in the future. However, if you provide a seamless experience for families on Mother’s day, you can help to craft a memory that they won’t soon forget.
Doing so required forethought and lots of planning. Managing a rush can be strenuous, but with a plan in place, things are bound to go a lot smoother. Here are just a few of the ways that you can prepare yourself and your staff for the upcoming Mother’s day rush.
Get Ready for Reservations (or Don’t)
The first big decision you need to make for any major holiday is whether or not you’re going to accept reservations. There are pros and cons to both accepting and declining, as you likely already know. For example, by accepting reservations you’ll allow a select few parties to skip the wait, ensuring that they’ll have a great spot and a great time. However, you’ll have to deal with more walk-ins, as you’ll have to squeeze them in around your reservations.
By choosing to reject reservations, you won’t have to worry about ensuring that tables are ready by a certain time, and you can stick to a waitlist for all parties. By doing this, you’ll be able to manage your waitlist easier and the wait for most parties won’t be as long, depending on the turnout.
To keep up with the rush, you may want to add extra seating outside or split apart tables when possible. Keeping the line moving is a great way to ensure that customers have a good time from start to finish. You should also always ensure that you’re quoting the correct wait time so customers know how long they’ll have to wait. Over-estimate when you can, allowing customers to be pleasantly surprised by a shortened wait.
Accept Orders in Advance
Not everyone wants to dine out on Mother’s Day, likely because of the long wait times. Some would prefer to dine in, sharing the day with their family in a more private setting. To ensure that takeout feels just as special as the alternative, allow customers to place orders in advance, so they don’t have to worry about waiting too long to pick up the day of. By requiring orders to be placed by a certain deadline, you can more accurately gauge the labor you’ll need for takeout that day.
With order-ahead options, you can also offer meal kits or scecials. Meal kits are a great idea for restaurants that are especially busy on Mother’s Day and would prefer to prepare something in advance for their takeout customers. By using this method, you can ensure that all pickup orders are ready to go by Mother’s Day. That way, the potential of hold-ups is lower.
Choose a Minimal Menu for the Day
While your customers should be your main priority on any given day (especially a busy one), it’s important to keep your staff in mind too. Staff burnout is real, causing workers to feel drained and tired after long days and big rushes. With holidays like Mother’s Day, Easter, and Valentine’s Day, employees often leave feeling like all life has been drained out of them completely. However, there are a few ways to combat this feeling and ensure your workers aren’t at wits end throughout their shift.
By simplifying your Mother’s Day menu and opting for a prix fixe menu or a specials menu, you can make the workload a lot lighter on your kitchen staff. When your staff only has to worry about preparing a few different entrees, appetizers, and desserts instead of having to deal with an entire menu, the process is much simpler. The same is true of bartenders who don’t have to worry about creating 20+ different drinks all night and servers who don’t have to worry about having all the knowledge of the menu at their disposal throughout a 10+ hour shift.
While a minimal menu can help, increasing labor is the best choice if possible. Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year, so your staffing and scheduling choices for that day should reflect the rush you’re expecting. Mother’s Day is not the time to be short staffed.
Be Prepared to Put Out Fires
No matter how much planning you do in advance, some things will ultimately still go wrong throughout the day. Whether you own a small restaurant (and manage the dining room yourself) or work with a group of managers, make sure that you (or the FOH and BOH managers) are trained to put out the fires that will inevitably come up. Here are some common issues you might experience:
Guests who are upset at the wait time
Guests who are upset at how long their food takes
Issues with food from rushing cooks
Issues with service from busy servers and hosts
While these problems are unavoidable, you and your team’s excellent customer service skills, along with delicious food, and a stunning atmosphere can help to solve nearly any issue.
Create a Memorable Experience
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, it’s time to use these tips to ensure you and your staff are ready for the busy day and ready to give families an experience that they’ll remember for years to come. So maybe, in the future, they’ll choose your restaurant again and again.