Three Spirited (And Last-Minute) Cinco de Mayo Promotions

Cinco de Mayo is one of the biggest holidays of the year for bars and restaurants. It’s not on the level of Mother’s Day, Easter or Valentine’s Day, but it’s squarely in the tier below with Father’s Day. 

Maybe you’re like me and don’t plan ahead super well. Maybe you haven’t thought of any ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at your restaurant. And maybe you’re thinking you’re too late since it’s less than a week out.

Don’t be silly! There are plenty of last-minute promotions you can hold to commemorate the holiday and bring in more paying customers.

But first..

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican holiday commemorating the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Contrary to what many mistakenly believe, it is not the Mexican equivalent of July 4th.

In recent years, there has been a lot of conversation around how to properly celebrate important cultural holidays. Cinco de Mayo in particular has been known to lead to problematic behavior, such as dressing up as Mexican stereotypes, appropriating culture, and binge drinking. So however you choose to celebrate, please remember to do so respectfully and responsibly. 

As the name might suggest, Cinco de Mayo occurs on May 5th. Which you probably noticed is nearly upon us Not to worry! You still have time. To help out, we’ve compiled three fast and easy promotions you can still do to boost sales and build further engagement with your customers.

Cinco de Mayo is the perfect excuse to introduce some fun (and probably fruity) cocktails to your normal drink menu. Cocktails are some of the highest margin-items at your restaurant. With over half the states allowing to-go liquor sales post-pandemic, new specialty cocktails can be a huge boost for both on-premise sales and off.

Unlike food specials, which require a little forethought to stack up on ingredients, specialty cocktails can be a truly last-minute endeavor. It’s easy to pick up some extra handles of tequila and a few mixers. Even if you can’t order them at bulk pricing like normal, you can sell the drinks at such a high margin that it’s worth it.

Some fun drink specials include:

  • Margaritas. Always a classic and can be dressed up in so many fun different ways to make it special and unique to your bar or restaurant.

  • Palomas. Everyone makes margaritas, so if you want to stand out, consider whipping up some palomas. They’re tasting, and super easy to make last minute. All you need it tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda.

  • Sangria. More of a Spanish thing, sure, but it works in a pinch. Plus you can make it by the vat, so it works well for a special holiday promotion.

Bonus tip: Get a keg of Mexican beer on tap and offer it at a discount, or as part of a bundle deal. Beer is another high-margin items, so the more sales you can incentivize, the better (even at a discount).

Partnering with a charitable organization or non-profit can be a great way to encourage customers to come through while giving a little back to your community. It can build customer engagement and loyalty by orienting you and them towards a common goal. It also strengthen ties between you can the community by showing that you care and it’s not all about the bottom line.

Interested, but don’t know where to start? Here are two national organizations doing good work to support the Latino community.

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

This award-winning non-profit inditenfies and prepares Latino leaders in the community, classroom and workforce. They also help connect young Latinos with professionals in the workforce.

United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The USHCC represents over 4.37 million Latino-owned businesses and helps promote their economic growth with over $200 million in funding. They have over 250 local chapters, so by raising money for your local one, you can help out Latino-owned restaurants in your area.

OK, you’ve picked an organization. But how exactly do you tie-in a non-profit promotion into everyday business? We have some ideas:

  • 10 percent of all orders on Cinco go to the non-profit you’ve partnered with

  • 50 percent of all proceeds from a specialty drink or food item go to the organization

  • Offer to match donations up to a certain amount. You can make it easier for customers to donate by linking a QR code to your preferred donation site.

What better way to commemorate a special occasion than with a fun new menu design tailored to your specific Cinco de Mayo celebration. Not only does it mark the occasion by introducing a different aesthetic, but you can tie in the rest of your promotions easier by listing your drink specials or including a little write up on why you chose a certain non-profit to support, and how your customers can help.

If you don’t have the time or know-how, menu template design services have free menu templates you can customize, download and print. 

Bonus caution! Same as anything with Cinco de Mayo, be careful with your menu design to not stray into the realm of the offensive.  What’s offensive? Well everyone draws the line at different places, so it’s always safe to play by the rule: if you’re questioning it, but probably best to avoid it.

As you can see, it’s still possible to throw a great, last-minute Cinco de Mayo promotion that builds customer relations and boosts sales. Just remember this year to celebrate respectfully and responsibly.