Prepare for Mother’s Day – One of the Busiest Days of the Year for Restaurants

Updated 26th January 2022

Out of all the special days we celebrate, it’s safe to say that spoiling our parents is probably the most satisfying. Let’s face it, being a mum or dad is a tough job, so taking a day to recognise this and treat them to some top nosh and pampering is definitely a good thing.

It’s also an important day for restaurants, who can capitalise on the extra demand for tables. After all, nothing says “I love you, mum” more than some flowers and lunch at a snazzy spot. And to make sure your restaurant is ready for the day, we’ve got some suggestions on how you can help treat mums, partners and even grandmothers to a meal to remember.

Mothering Sunday

The history of Mother’s Day in the UK and Ireland is linked with religion. It is traditionally called Mothering Sunday and is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Centuries ago, most churchgoers worshipped in their nearest parish or ‘daughter church’ and it was seen as important to return to their ‘mother church’, which would be the main church or cathedral in the area. Inevitably this return, which usually happened on ‘Laetare Sunday’ – the middle of Lent – became an occasion for family reunions when children who were working away, often as domestic servants, returned home. The children would bring flowers that they picked along the way to take to church to give to their mothers. Over the decades, a number of women lobbied for it to become an official holiday and its celebration rose in popularity. It was widely accepted by the 1950s and the special day became more commercial.

Work to your strengths

Most families dine out for Mother’s Day, which makes it one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. It’s a special occasion and the chance for a son or daughter to treat their mum to a special experience, whether it’s for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

In a restaurant, the key to a successful Mother’s Day is knowing your guests and planning offerings to suit them. There’s no point doing breakfast, lunch and dinner if all your bookings are going to be for the morning and you will be empty by 2pm. There is also no point in offering too many menus when one specially-selected and carefully-promoted menu is enough.

Mother’s Day is an opportunity to accentuate your restaurant’s strengths. For example, if you’re known as the place for brunches, then go all out for Mother’s Day brunch with a unique menu designed with mums in mind. Or if you do afternoon teas, there’s no time like Mother’s Day to promote them to guests.

It’s all about timing

The most effective methods for making a special Mother’s Day experience in your restaurant involve controlling your food offering to a limited number of dishes, focusing on how you can add value and having a strategy in place to keep children entertained; happy kids equals happy parents.

No matter your offering, promoting your special ‘Mother’s Day Menu’ ahead of time is essential. Announce your opening hours and menu online on your website and social media platforms at least two weeks before the day – family occasions are always organised, so bookings will be imminent. Sharing the menu online creates excitement, and inviting diners who’ve booked to share it with their mums will make the event more special.

Room presentation is key and will add to the overall enjoyment. Fresh flowers do a lot to create mood, and having some on each table will definitely benefit the experience. You can never have enough flowers.

A drink for mum on arrival would be an added bonus, if possible, and a great way to start the meal. Another idea is offering petit fours (wrapped in cellophane) to mums at the end of the meal as a take home souvenir or a discount on mum’s meal.

If you do not have them in your restaurant already, getting some kids high chairs for the day can solve a lot of problems. Create a corner in your restaurant that is for ‘kids only’ to keep them busy doing quiet activities such as drawing or making cards for mum and give parents some time to themselves, perhaps between courses or at the end of the meal.

Meal planning

The creation of a Mother’s Day Menu, separate from your usual menu, offers regulars something new to look forward to. With OpenTable, you can use Experiences to create a few dishes that are family friendly and appeal to many. Keep the menu light and provide a few dessert options, even if you’re just offering breakfast or brunch, as your diners will be in the mood to celebrate!

Half portions will serve as a kids menu rather than creating specific dishes for children, but be prepared for special requests for children or special dietary requirements.

Remembering the moment

Ask your diners to post a group photo of the people at their table on your social media pages with #mothersday for a chance to win a voucher for dinner or some other prize – Mother’s Day is only a few weeks to Easter so a hamper or egg would be a good idea. This is a clever way to get marketing on the day, but also to encourage families to share the moment and have something to remember their visit.

Making the most of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a fantastic opportunity to sell out tables at your restaurant in advance and provide a memorable experience for mum and the entire family. Put on a great Mother’s Day showing, and guests will remember you for next year, too. You could become the go-to spot for annual Mother’s Day celebrations.