The holiday season is far behind us, and summer holidays are still a warm thought, not quite within our reach just yet. Fear not, there are still plenty of great reasons to celebrate this spring and even more great ways to help promote your restaurant. Stand out from your competition with these unique marketing ideas for April and May:
National Garlic Month and April 19: National Garlic Day
As an essential ingredient in so many types of cuisine, it wouldn’t be too difficult for restaurants to celebrate garlic this month with themed promotions. Your most garlicky dishes can be featured with special pricing this month, or create a new dish that celebrates its flavor. Just ensure there’s an ample supply of mints at your host stand so your customers can leave with fresh breath.
April 12: National Grilled Cheese Day
April showers may come your way, and nothing is more comforting on a dreary day than a gooey grilled cheese. A classic cheddar grilled cheese with a bowl of tomato soup would make for a great special du jour, or try experimenting with different flavor combinations. Program restaurant Melt Bar & Grilled has made grilled cheese into an art with varieties like the Parmageddon with pierogi and kraut.
April 16: National Stress Awareness Day
Americans are hard workers, but we also are highly prone to stress. One of the ways many of us like to relax is to treat ourselves to a good meal, which is how your restaurant can benefit from this day of awareness. If your restaurant philosophy is on the more nutritious side, promote healthy eating to reduce stress. Conversely, restaurants and bars can also feature drink specials to encourage customers to unwind on this “Thirsty Thursday.”
April 26: National Pretzel Day
From the pretzel buns at Wendy’s to the pretzel-crusted fried pickles at Republic Social House in Atlanta, pretzels are popping up at restaurants everywhere. Make the most of this menu trend by featuring your own pretzel-themed special. Twist up soft pretzels like those at Sigmund’s in NYC for an appetizer special, or take an adventurous approach with new pretzel-crusted entrees. If you want to go all-in on this promo, you could even replace your restaurant’s usual bread basket with a basket of pretzels!
1 – April Fools’ Day: Depending on your audience, their loyalty and what tone your restaurant usually uses, you can throw a tasteful prank on your customers. Think of something creative that will leave them smiling afterwards without offending them or ruining your good reputation. Pretend it’s a loyal customer’s birthday, change your menus around (for example, offer breakfast at dinner or dinner at breakfast), or your staff can dress up like a big snowstorm is coming. Whatever it is, just be fun and make sure nobody will get offended. It’s only a good prank if the customer is laughing afterwards.
1-7 – The NCAA Basketball Tournament: March Madness will be finishing off in April with April 7 being the National Championship game. Offer specials at your bar to help make your location their first choice, and consider bringing in extra tv’s for your dining room and even the bathrooms.
11 – Pet Day: Due to most county laws, you probably can’t invite all the furry friends into your establishment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate them. This is a great theme for your restaurant Pinterest boards, Instagram account and other social media platforms. Also, if you have a patio open and if your county and city laws allow, you can promote a celebration with customers and their pets. Just be sure to check with your local laws, set some ground rules for the pet party patio participation and be conscious of your staff’s needs, likes and dislikes in this arena.
20 – Easter Sunday: Did you know that buffets are one of the most sought-after menus during Easter? Consider this approach for a special Easter brunch offering and start promoting it right away – reservations will probably be necessary!
National Barbecue Month (May 16 National Barbecue Day)
What’s a better way to celebrate the return of warmer weather than to throw a shrimp on the barbie? There are endless possibilities in taking advantage of this foodie holiday at your restaurant. Besides the American regional styles, there are also yakitori, jerk chicken, tandoor, and bulgogi, just to name a few. Whether these fit your restaurant’s brand or you want to create new specials, celebrate the culinary joys of barbecue this month with themed marketing to increase restaurant sales.
May 11: National “Eat What You Want” Day
What a perfect holiday for restaurant marketing strategies! Promote your restaurant as the go-to spot for pigging out on this day by featuring some of your most indulgent dishes as specials or creating new treats that convince your customers that “calories don’t matter”. You can also take this to a new level with a “Man v. Food”-style challenge. The winner of the challenge can receive their meal on the house, their photo on display at the restaurant and social media, and some restaurant swag.
May 18: No Dirty Dishes Day
Here’s another winning strategy for any restaurant’s marketing plan that is simple to execute. Promote this holiday with social media posts and signs in your restaurant featuring messaging to put down the pots and pans, and visit your restaurant instead. If your restaurant offers takeout or delivery, you could also promote deals on those orders with a “secret phrase” to mention when ordering over the phone to receive the special offer.
May 25: National Wine Day
End the month of May with a boost of merriment that will increase your restaurant alcohol sales. With pop culture icons like Olivia Pope making wine even more popular, your restaurant can cash in on the trend by featuring half-price bottles or special pairings with your signature dishes. Don’t have a bar? This also happens to be National Brown-Bag-It Day, so BYOB restaurants can attract customers with this marketing strategy by waiving corkage fees on bottles brought to the restaurant.
4 – Kentucky Derby: Make sure to promote this popular event if you will be showing it on your restaurant and bar televisions. This is a great day to have party and drink specials with a Kentucky cuisine theme. You can host a hat contest to encourage people to dress up and watch the race. Another great way to encourage participation is to allow guests to draw a horse’s name out of a hat where the winner of the corresponding horse gets a prize. No matter what you do, be sure to have your camera ready for your social media, customers love a great excuse to wear a big hat on Kentucky Derby Day.
5 – Cindo de Mayo: This is a great time to have tequila cocktails ready to go. If you are a Mexican restaurant, it makes sense to have party or catering menus around the restaurant prior to the day to promote the occasion, but you don’t have to be a Mexican restaurant to celebrate this fun day. Promote a special food and drink menu, offer hats and other accessories to guests and get in the spirit and in the door.
8 – NFL Draft: The 1st day of the NFL Draft can be an exciting time to bring back NFL fans to your bar. You can promote fantasy football parties as well to get them thinking about your place when next season rolls around.
11 – Mother’s Day: You already know this is one of the busiest times of the year for restaurants. Stand out from the crowd and offer all moms something special like complimentary appetizers or even a gift certificate for future visits.
18 – Billboard Music Awards: Have a viewing party at the bar area. Create specialized menus that are affiliated with the musical artists (e.g. the “Wrecking Meatball Sandwich” after the Miley Cyrus song “Wrecking Ball”). These could make great “punny” photos for your Facebook and Instagram pages leading up to the big day.
Whatever you celebrate in your restaurant this spring, and however you celebrate it, be sure to start promoting it in advance on your social media channels. And definitely take lots of pictures during so you have more current content for your channels and a great way to promote again next year. Stay tuned for more great marketing ideas for restaurants this summer!
Contact Rewards Network for more great ways to promote your restaurant to millions of frequent diners.