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Getting Your Restaurant Ready for the Holiday Rush

Getting Your Restaurant Ready for the Holiday Rush

The holiday season is a bustling and lucrative time for restaurants. As families and friends gather to celebrate, dine out, and enjoy the festivities, your restaurant can make a lasting impression and boost your revenue. However, with increased foot traffic and high customer expectations, proper preparation is key. We will go through 7 essential steps to ensure your restaurant is ready to shine during the holiday rush.

1. Decorate to Create an Inviting Atmosphere: Embrace the holiday spirit by enhancing your restaurant with festive decorations. From twinkling lights to seasonal centerpieces, a well-decorated space can instantly elevate the dining experience. Consider your restaurant's theme and choose decorations that align with it while still reflecting the holiday theme. Engage all the senses by incorporating scents like cinnamon and pine and subtly playing holiday tunes in the background. Often, restaurant goers are looking for a fun atmosphere when going out to eat for a meal or a drink. These customers enjoy seeing the restaurants all decked out in the holiday décor, which creates a perfect picture opportunity. The aesthetic tends to give free advertising as these customers want to share on their personal social media the neat restaurant atmosphere they are experiencing.  

2. Plan a Special Holiday Menu: Craft a special holiday menu that showcases seasonal ingredients and flavors. Offer traditional favorites with a unique twist and ensure there are options for different dietary preferences. Highlight comfort foods and heartwarming dishes that resonate with the spirit of the holidays. Don’t forget to include special holiday desserts and beverages that will leave a lasting memory on your customers' taste buds! When there are menu items that relate to the seasons, it’s a great time to offer “Limited time” dishes. This will get your customers excited to come in and try the meal/drink/dessert before it gets taken off the menu.

3. Optimize Staffing and Training: The holiday rush can be demanding on your staff, so ensure you have the right number of employees scheduled to handle the increased workload. Consider hiring seasonal staff to provide additional support during the busiest times. Provide training to ensure all staff members are well-versed in the holiday menu and can deliver exceptional service even under pressure. There tends to be unexpected rushes and peak busyness times when it comes to the holidays due to family gatherings, friends reconnecting, and the sense of celebrating the time of year. Having a plan before this time of the year comes will set your staff up for success. The holiday season often means a surge in reservations. Utilize reservation management software to keep track of bookings, allocate seating efficiently, and minimize wait times. Clearly communicate your reservation policies, including cancellation and no-show fees, to avoid any misunderstandings. Prepare your staff to deliver top-notch service that matches the festive atmosphere. Train them to handle different customer scenarios, offer personalized recommendations, and ensure that every guest feels welcomed and valued. Exceptional service can turn a one-time holiday diner into a loyal, year-round customer.

4. Enhance Online Presence and Marketing: Update your restaurant's website and social media profiles to reflect the holiday ambiance and menu offerings. Use enticing visuals and engaging content to promote your special holiday offerings. Encourage customers to make reservations online and provide easy access to your menu and contact information. Launch targeted marketing campaigns to spread the word about your restaurant's holiday offers. Send out email newsletters, run social media ads, and collaborate with influencers to reach a wider audience. Consider offering special promotions, discounts, or loyalty rewards to entice customers to choose your restaurant for their holiday celebrations.

5. Offer Online Ordering and Delivery: Incorporate the convenience of online ordering and delivery for customers who prefer to enjoy your holiday delights at home. Partner with popular delivery platforms to expand your reach and cater to those who may not be able to dine in. In many cases, your customers want to serve your food at their intimate gatherings. To do this, they will need to do carryout or better yet, delivery. Even though they are not enjoying the restaurant dining experience, they are getting the opportunity to take with them the delicious dishes to be present at their home to enjoy. Adding delivery as a service will create efficiency and convenience for these customers.

6. Manage Inventory and Supplies: Anticipate the increased demand for ingredients and supplies during the holiday season. Maintain a well-organized inventory system to prevent shortages and last-minute rushes to restock essential items. This will help you avoid disappointing customers and maintain a smooth operation. Doing these tedious tasks upfront will help prevent any issues throughout the restaurant hours and will not give your staff any surprises.

7. Focus on Hygiene and Safety: As always, prioritize hygiene and safety protocols to provide a clean and secure environment for your guests. With ongoing concern for health, clearly communicate your sanitation practices and adhere to local health guidelines to ensure the well-being of both customers and staff. The holiday season is when many illnesses arise, so keeping your staff educated with the protocols will help prevent any issues at your restaurant.

Preparing your restaurant for the holidays requires careful planning and execution, but the rewards are well worth the effort. By creating a warm and inviting atmosphere, offering a special holiday menu, optimizing staffing, enhancing your online presence, and delivering exceptional service, you can ensure that your restaurant becomes a go-to destination for holiday celebrations. With the right strategy in place, you will not only provide memorable experiences for your guests but also set your restaurant up for success during the festive season and beyond.


Cozy Autumn Wild Rice Soup



·       6 cups chicken stock – SGC# 211419

·       1 cup uncooked wild rice– SGC# 051334

·       8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced – SGC# 196436

·       4 cloves garlic, minced – SGC# 192922

·       2 medium carrots, diced – SGC# 076786

·       2 ribs celery, diced – SGC# 192290

·       1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced – SGC# 19172

·       1 small white onion, peeled and diced – SGC# 192006

·       1 bay leaf – SGC# 193549

·       1 1/2 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning – SGC# 282997

·       1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk – SGC# 521547

·       2 large handfuls of kale, roughly chopped with thick stems removed – SGC# 193169






·       Combine base ingredients. Combine vegetable stock, wild rice, mushrooms, garlic, carrots, celery, sweet potato, onion, bay leaf and Old Bay seasoning in the bowl of an Instant Pot pressure cooker.  Stir briefly to combine.

·       Pressure cook. Cover and cook on manual (high pressure) for 25 minutes.  Let the Instant Pot rest and naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes.  Then carefully open the vent and quickly release the remaining pressure.  Remove lid and discard the bay leaf.

·       Add final ingredients. Add the coconut milk and kale to the soup and stir gently until combined.  Taste and season with salt and pepper (plus any extra Old Bay seasoning, if you would like) as needed.

·       Serve. Serve warm and enjoy!


·       Sauté the veggies. Heat (an extra) 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.  Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.

·       Add base ingredients. Add in the vegetable stock, wild rice, mushrooms, carrots, celery, sweet potato, bay leaf and Old Bay seasoning.  Stir to combine.

·       Simmer. Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer.  Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.

·       Add final ingredients. Add the coconut milk and kale to the soup and stir gently until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper (plus any extra Old Bay seasoning, if you would like) as needed.

·       Serve. Serve warm and enjoy!