Avoid the Post-Holiday Slump
6 Essential Tips to Keep Your Dining Room Busy in Off-Season
What restaurant doesn't love the holiday season? Chances are you see a spike in traffic with people coming in with friends and family, popping by for after-work celebratory drinks at the bar and spending a little more than usual due to the festive mood of the season.
Then January hits and you wonder where everyone went. It doesn't have to be that way. We asked folks in the industry to share ways they keep busy during what's typically considered the post-holiday slump.
"The more innovative restaurants will own the season: crafting and promoting menus inspired by the season to help drive guest counts."
– Jeff Carl, managing partner at industry consultants Restaurant Brandworks
"It's crucial to research what your city and local community have planned. Research art exhibits, events, celebrity anniversaries, convention and trade show schedules and more. What you promote at your restaurant should always correlate with what's happening in the city, but it's important to always keep the restaurant identity and brand cohesive."
– Martial Noguier, chef/owner, Bistronomic, Chicago
"It could be a new menu, take-out specials for the month of January, or a 'fresh' rollout with the perfect options to knock off the holiday weight. You can tease this through table tents, on receipts and on social media. Bounce backs that can only be redeemed after Jan. 1 are great as well."
– Antoinette Jonas, designer and marketer, Hawkers Asian Street Fare throughout Florida, Atlanta and Charlotte
"We launched 'Commuter Hour' a number of years ago to encourage people to linger after work and avoid traffic and Metro delays. From 5 to 7 p.m., we offer some of our favorite small bites like artichokes 'alla Romana.'"
– Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray, co-owners, Equinox Restaurant, Washington, D.C.
"People have birthdays every day and if you market a good birthday special for small groups and parties you just may book extra parties during the slow post-holiday season."
– Serge Zborovsky, managing partner, Raise New York
"We focus most of our efforts around major sporting events, primarily NFL and NCAA football games, playoffs and championships. Super Bowl Sunday is the second busiest day of the year for us, second to Cinco de Mayo. We also use this time to review our menu and create possible new menu items, testing them with focus groups composed of loyal customers and local food/lifestyle influencers."
– Victoria Reyes, head of operations, Tito’s Burritos with five locations in New Jersey