7 Tips for Managing a Restaurant with Ease During Thanksgiving Rush
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year for foodservice establishments. Restaurants often say Thanksgiving is the most hectic Thursday of the calendar, with huge crowds of families and friends jostling in to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season.
While Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with the family over a classic roast turkey , mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie at home, more people are opting to ditch all the cooking and cleaning and go to a restaurant instead. According to the National Restaurant Association, 1 out of 10 Americans prefer to dine out on Thanksgiving. Another 1 out of 5 order full takeout meals that they take home to serve for Thanksgiving dinner, allowing them to keep up with tradition without the hassle of preparing a dozen dishes for everyone and cleaning up after.
If you decide to open your doors to customers hoping to ease off the stresses of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, here are some ways to make the holiday rush lighter and easier for you and your staff.
Stock up on inventory
However, you also want to ensure you don’t stock up too much on food items. The key is to find the sweet spot where you have just a little bit more than enough for everybody. If you’re not sure, look at your historical data. How many customers have been coming to you for Thanksgiving dinner in the past? Do you expect the same number of people this year? Based on these numbers, how many of each ingredient do you need to stock up on for Thanksgiving day? It also helps to have a concrete plan on what to do with the leftovers so that you can minimize food spoilage and waste.
Manage staff schedule
Again, look at your past performances and assess how many pairs of hands you need on deck on Thanksgiving Day. Not having enough staff will undoubtedly drain workers’ energy and lead to poor service, but too many workers standing around with not much to do can also stress them out thinking they should have just stayed at home with their families instead.
Offer Thanksgiving meals for takeout
Start promoting your Thanksgiving takeout service ahead of time on your website and social media pages, where you can add a link to a catering form that lets customers put in their orders for to-go meals on Thanksgiving. Include all the pertinent information they need to know. For instance, are meals available prix fixe or ala carte? What time are their orders available for pickup?
The secret to making Thanksgiving memorable for takeout customers is for you to create the same memorable dining experience at home as they would have at your restaurant. Start by going the extra mile with a delivery service that eliminates all hassle of customers having to go to your location to pick up their order. All food items should be clearly labeled for easy unpacking and must come with easy-to-understand instructions for reheating. Throw in an extra dish or two, such as a box of freshly baked cookies for dessert, as your way of saying thank you to them for choosing your service.
Plan your menu
However, don’t forget to stay true to your identity as a restaurant. For instance, if you specialize in Japanese cuisine, even people who come to you for Thanksgiving will still be looking for sushi, sashimi, and tempura. Also, not everyone will want to have turkey on this day. Some people will crave for other food items, while others may simply not want to celebrate Thanksgiving at all. Keep your regular menu open for people who prefer something else.
Amp up on hospitality
It also helps keep a lasting impression if you leave something special at the check, such as a small plate of petit fours or a glass of warm milk and cookies for the children. Offering an extra level of service without it being asked for makes your guests feel extra thankful on Thanksgiving day.
Host a Thanksgiving meal with staff.
It’s also important that you reward workers profusely for working on Thanksgiving. Extra compensations, such as double-pay or leftover turkey sandwiches to take home to their families, go a long way. Another option is to open only at certain hours, such as 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. so that employees can still spend Thanksgiving with their families.
Market your Thanksgiving services.