One of the busiest days of the year for restaurants and bars is Cinco de Mayo. This is a holiday that celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War on May 5, 1862. It’s actually a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, but in the United States Cinco de Mayo has become a large celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic still present across the U.S., bar and restaurant owners may need to rethink their typical celebrations. We’re sharing ideas and tips for how restaurants can still fuel brand awareness and generate revenue on Cinco de Mayo during these unpredictable times.
Delicious drinks are a key component of any good celebration and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. Consider curating a special drink menu for this day that showcases Mexican-inspired cocktails, beers, and beverages. Featured drinks can include:
Margarita–Put your bartenders’ creativity to the test and develop your very own Cinco de Mayo house margarita. It can be infused with extra spice, flavor, or a completely unexpected twist.
Paloma–A tequila cocktail that’s packed with zesty lime juice, grapefruit juice, and sparkling water, this concoction makes for a delightfully refreshing drink.
Michelada–This Mexican beer and Clamato cocktail can be made a dozen ways, so make sure your restaurant’s variation is unique, delicious, and a reflection of your brand’s personality.
Tequila–Offer a variety of Mexican tequilas that range in price and taste to satisfy a wide variety of budgets and palates.
Mexican Mule-A twist on the traditional “Moscow Mule,” a Mexican Mule includes tequila, ginger beer, and lime juice—it’s always a crowd favorite.
Other alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages restaurants can serve on Cinco de Mayo may include Horchata, Bloody Maria, Agua de Jamaica, Mexican Hot Chocolate, and Mexican beer. Don’t be afraid to create ownable cocktails and drinks that spotlight Mexican ingredients and flavors to impress your guests with unique beverage options they won’t find anywhere else.
Of course, no Cinco de Mayo celebration would be complete without an extensive and mouthwatering Mexican food menu. When planning your menu, it’s a good idea to choose items that have ingredient crossover to save on cost and reduce food waste. Below are a few Mexican staple dishes that your chef can put their own unique and festive spin on.
- Homemade guacamole/salsa/Pico de Gallo with chips
- Shrimp ceviche
- Crispy tostadas
- Chicken tamales
- Mole poblano
- Skirt steak tacos
- Pork posole
- Carnitas with Mexican rice and refried beans
- Homemade churro
- Caramel flan
- Tres Leches cake
Due to constantly shifting COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, utilizing your restaurant’s outdoor areas is a smart idea. If you have an outdoor patio, rooftop, or sidewalk seating, consider reworking this space for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. This can include renting tents or heaters, depending on the climate in your area. It’s important that your restaurant adheres to state and local guidelines surrounding coronavirus and outdoor dining regulations. If a viable option, you can offer ticketed timeslots that people can sign up for on your website. Limiting party sizes and how long guests are able to reserve a table for will allow the maximum amount of people possible to enjoy your restaurant in a safe way. By having predetermined reservations and time limits in place, guests will understand the expectations and feel safer knowing that your restaurant is following social distancing protocols.
One strategy that’s seen success throughout the pandemic is take-home meal kits and drink kits. An ideal solution for people who are not quite comfortable dining out yet, your restaurant can assemble take-home Cinco de Mayo kits. This way, your customers can enjoy your restaurant’s menu and celebrate from the comfort of their own home. Your Cinco de Mayo meal kits can feature traditional Mexican dishes (like the ones we previously listed) as premade, ready-to-eat dishes or you can instead include the portioned ingredients so everyone can cook together. Similarly, your restaurant can test offering to-go drink kits. These can have all the necessary, pre-portioned ingredients and garnishes for popular Cinco de Mayo cocktails. It’s a good idea to choose the top three cocktails that typically sell the best on this day to include in your take-home drink kit options this year.
Now it’s time to let everyone know about your restaurant’s Cinco de Mayo celebration options by posting on your website and social media pages. Include a link to book reservations and disclose any COVID-19 guidelines/restrictions that are required for guests. Consistently post about your Cinco de Mayo offerings a few weeks before the day to give people enough time to plan and possibly order meal kits ahead of time. It’s a good idea to feature professional quality photography of your Mexican food and drink items to encourage social media engagement. You can also promote your to-go Cinco de Mayo meal kit and drink kit options with a link to the ordering page. Overall, it’s important to let your customers, both current and prospective, know exactly how they can safely celebrate Cinco de Mayo with your restaurant this year during COVID-19.
Be sure to regularly visit our free resource section dedicated to advising restaurants on how to navigate the changing rules and regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic.