One of the most popular ways to show appreciation for moms — or anyone who fills that role — on Mother’s Day is to gather around the table for a delicious meal. In fact, Mother’s Day restaurant sales were the busiest of all national holidays on DoorDash in both 2020 and 2019. 

As restaurants begin transitioning back to in-person dining at varying capacities, it’s important for operators and their staff to prepare for an influx of both dine-in and delivery orders on May 9th. The best place to start? Determine your promotional strategy and begin marketing as soon as possible. 

We pulled together some creative Mother’s Day dining promotions and tips to help you boost business and stand out on the busiest restaurant holiday of the year. Most importantly, these strategies will give deserving moms a tasty, memorable experience that will make them want to come back for more. 

1. Consider consumer trends

Last year, US Foods asked 2,009 American moms about their ideal Mother’s Day celebration — and the results are especially relevant to restaurants. 53% of moms said they want takeout or delivery from their favorite restaurant more than anything else on Mother’s Day, so be sure to plan accordingly.

When given the choice between a healthy meal or their guilty pleasure, 64% of moms said they would prefer to indulge on their special day — so while healthy options are always a good idea, be sure to whip up enough delectable desserts too. 

Brunch is a popular Mother’s Day dining promotion, inspiring the hashtag #mothersdaybrunch on Instagram. Consider offering a brunch special, but don’t eliminate lunch and dinner options completely — as 48% of moms said the meal they enjoy most on Mother’s Day is dinner, and 24% prefer lunch. Give moms options when it comes to your Sunday business hours and specials. This is their day, after all!

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2. Offer build-your-own dishes and meal kits

Celebrating Mother’s Day is not only about the food — it’s also about families spending quality time together. A fun way to drive restaurant sales on Mother’s Day is with interactive menu additions, like a build-your-own crepe station, avocado toast bar, or bagel board. In-person diners can customize the meal to their liking while getting creative with loved ones, and off-premise customers can enjoy these customized dishes at home. 

For families more comfortable staying in this year, build-your-own meal kits are another interactive — and increasingly popular — option. Meal kits grew in popularity during the pandemic, and provide customers with the ingredients and instructions necessary to create a gourmet, home-cooked meal for mom without scrambling to the grocery store. The strategic food industry consulting firm, Pentallect, predicts the meal kit industry will continue to grow 25-30% over the next five years. This trend is here to stay, and restaurateurs are jumping on board.

3. Enhance your ambience with outdoor seating and live music

As the vaccinated population increases and pandemic restrictions ease, restaurants can expect more outdoor dining — especially as warm weather arrives. In a recent survey conducted by Zagat on the future of dining, 77% of respondents said outdoor seating would make them more likely to dine at a restaurant. An attractive outdoor space, especially in spring and summer, will encourage new and returning customers to walk through your doors. 

Pique customers’ interest further with a live band in your outdoor space. Research shows that music establishes a positive ambience and drives profits to restaurants by hastening table turnover and even increasing ticket sizes. Hire a local band, curate a playlist dedicated to moms, and watch more orders roll in. 

4. Provide alcohol specials and signature drinks

A Mother’s Day meal goes best with a festive cocktail or signature drink celebrating the guest of honor. A popular Mother’s Day dining promotion that many restaurants have adopted are “mom-osa” kits complete with fruit and chocolate. Consider also offering discounts for moms on cocktails or pitchers of festive drinks like margaritas and sangria.

In addition to dine-in cocktails, let customers order alcohol to-go. Stock your wine inventory prior to Mother’s Day and consider offering discounts on bottles of wine for off-premise customers who order multiple entrees. DoorDash restaurant partners in locations where alcohol delivery is permitted can easily add alcohol to their to-go menu through the Merchant Portal.

Finally, your signature drinks don’t necessarily need to be alcoholic. In this thoughtful Mother’s Day post, Burgerville offered moms a sweet freebie: 12-ounce milkshakes redeemable with the fun promo code COOLMOM. They also included a clever play on words in their caption, encouraging moms to “stay cool” while enjoying the warm weather. This is one of Burgerville’s most popular promotions, with many customers looking forward to it every year. 

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5. Offer a prix-fixe takeout menu

On the busiest restaurant dine-in and takeout holiday of the year, a prix-fixe menu is a Mother’s Day dining promotion that can minimize pressure on your staff while creating a memorable experience for moms. 

A limited menu means restaurant teams can move faster to prepare meals, serve tables, and get more customers through the door. Offering a multi-course bundle is also a way to increase ticket sizes, helping to drive your Mother’s Day restaurant sales

Spread the word about your prix-fixe menu on social media prior to May 9th and give families the opportunity to place orders in advance. This way, your staff is well-equipped to stock inventory and has clear expectations of the workload going into the holiday. 

6. Cater to kids, too

48% of moms value spending quality time with their kids on Mother’s Day. Remember that Mother’s Day is about making moms happy, and by extension, keeping their kids occupied and satisfied too. Consider offering a kid-friendly menu — which will increase Mother’s Day restaurant sales by allowing families to celebrate all together. 

If you offer a prix-fixe takeout menu for adults, create a simplified, discounted version for kids.  Moms can relax knowing their children are well-fed and enjoying the day as well. 

Start marketing Mother’s Day promotions early

These Mother’s Day dining promotions offer valuable insight into what moms want and how you can deliver on their special day — while increasing your restaurant’s sales, boosting new and returning business, and supporting your hardworking employees. 

The key to success? Get a head start on your marketing. Customers won’t be able to enjoy your delicious offerings if they haven’t heard about them. Highlight your Mother’s Day promotions and menu on social media, create an engaging email campaign, include a pop-up or banner on your website, and leverage in-store signage to get the word out. With thoughtful preparation and effective marketing, your restaurant will be a top Mother’s Day destination this year. 

For customers unable to spend the day with their mom due to the pandemic, gift cards are a great way to get food easily delivered from restaurants. Families can celebrate from afar with a meal over video chat. Consider suggesting this option to diners in the days leading up to Mother’s Day and be sure to promote it on your social media channels as well. 

Drive restaurant holiday sales year-round

Looking for more restaurant holiday marketing tips? Download the 2021 Restaurant Marketing Calendar and Toolkit and discover marketing insights and social media strategies to celebrate holidays year-round.

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author-saradeforest
Sara DeForest
Copywriter

Sara DeForest is a Bay Area-based freelance copywriter. Previously, she was VP of Marketing at an early stage startup that was named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies. Prior to that, Sara was a content marketer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Though Silicon Valley is a roller coaster, Sara finds her real adrenaline rush doing standup comedy.