Fourth of July is generally slower than other holidays for the restaurant industry with many guests opting for backyard BBQs and swimming pools instead of dining out. With the coronavirus pandemic still causing some states to be partially or fully closed to in-house dining, that is likely to be the trend again this year.
However, there will still be those who are looking to dine-in on your patio or pick up some food to add to their cookout. Here are a few tips for capturing those guests looking for some help with their July Fourth plans.
Creative 4th of July Restaurant Promotions
Deliver a Party With the Meal
Last year we recommended throwing an America-themed party at your restaurant, which probably isn’t possible now. This year, let your guests bring the party home when they order takeout or delivery by offering an add-on box with everything they’ll need for a backyard bash. Think American flag paper plates and napkins, party hats, streamers, balloons, or some sparklers (just make sure you check fireworks laws in your area!).
Start a 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest
Fourth of July isn’t just for fireworks; it’s also famous for barbecues and good food. That’s why bold restaurants hold annual 4th of July hot dog eating contests, like Nathan’s Hotdogs on Coney Island, whose televised hot dog-eating contest attracts about 40,000 contestants and contest-watchers every year. Again, since big crowds are a no-no this year, if you’re going to go this route, make sure you do so safely. One option is to keep all the contestants socially distanced and live stream the competition via a platform like Zoom rather than having a live audience.
Have a 4th of July Promotion that Pampers
Consider partnering with other businesses on a 4th of July-themed collaboration to spark sales. You could partner with a brewery on an Independence Day themed brew exclusive to your restaurant or team up with a salon or spa to offer some at-home pampering products for guests to enjoy over the long weekend with cocktails delivered from your restaurant. Everyone will be trying out new 4th of July menu ideas, so adding another element will help set you apart from the competition. Holiday urgency and exclusivity will bring customers in to celebrate with you.
Make the Most of Your View
If your restaurant offers any type of view watching the fireworks, capitalize on your prime location by upping the ante on your celebration. Take the lead of Boston’s Dante, which hosts an annual 4th of July Italian-American barbecue with all reservations guaranteed a seat on the patio for the big show. Just make sure all guests are following proper social distancing protocols so the event remains safe.
Welcome Local Pets
Furry friends often join in on outdoor 4th of July celebrations, so why not include them in your marketing? Some restaurants welcome pets with water bowls and treats as a 4th of July promotion. Meanwhile, the pet-centric Tuleh Pet Boutique in Palo Alto, California, writes a 4th of July blog post to help pet owners celebrate with safety in mind.
Do Something for the Anti-fireworks Crowd
Not everybody is up for the crowds and loud bangs that come with 4th of July fireworks, so consider an anti-fireworks party where anybody wearing red, white, and blue gets free admission or a free drink. Not into a dress code? Consider offering specials on red, white, and blue Jell-O shots or special cocktails.
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4th of July Restaurant Specials
- Coffee Shop 4th of July Promotions. Create a unique coffee drink for one day only. Make it something special like a play on the Americano or, if you have the equipment, a frozen strawberry blueberry lemonade. In any case, give passersby a reason to buy a coffee from you and leave with a thoughtful impression of your business.
- Restaurant 4th of July Promotions. Even if you have no intention of ever being a catering company, try to make an exception just on this one day of the year. Not everybody likes to cook, but everybody needs to bring something to their 4th of July barbecues. Offering tasty take-out trays that feed 20-30 people is a great idea. Ribs, chicken wings, and salads are all must-haves for the day.
- Deli 4th of July Promotions. An easy 4th of July menu idea for delis is finger sandwiches. You may already offer them, but it’s important to get it on your customers’ radars ahead of time. When your customers come in, make sure you have special 4th of July menus for them to bring home and reference. Buy some American flags in bulk to add flair to your sandwiches. Try creating a tray beforehand and taking a photo for the flyer so that people can be inspired.
- Bakery 4th of July Promotions. Everybody needs something to bring to their 4th of July party, but when it comes to pastries and cakes, not everybody knows where to go. Create a unique 4th of July desserts like red, white and blue cannolis, or a white icing cake topped with strawberries and blueberries. Whatever you create, make sure you promote it, especially on the street, to remind folks on the way to their parties. Here are some more bakery marketing ideas to help!
- Cupcake Shop 4th of July Promotions. This 4th of July menu idea is easy: red, white and blue cupcakes! Of course, you’ll need to rename them for this special occasion to make them unique. How about “Americakes”? Go ahead and steal it, I won’t tell. And while you’re at it, make sure to come up with a volume discount so that folks will have no problem feeding dozens of guests without breaking the bank.
4th of July Menu Ideas for Bars
- Serve American classics: When it comes to 4th of July menu ideas, cocktails work best when they look like Betsy Ross designed them herself.
- Pub Crawls: Try greeting anyone in flag attire with a free drink, and then throw dogs and burgers on the grill so that anyone passing by can follow their noses.
- Red, White, and Blue Drinks: Whip up red, white, and blue Jell-O shots and you’ve got solid gold. Not so good with the layered gelatin? Standard red and blue cups with a dollop of white whipped cream will work just fine. In fact, make welcome drinks for anyone who walks in and decides to celebrate with you. Mix that with a barbecue out back cooking up hotdogs, hamburgers, and other classic American fare and you’ve got yourself a 4th of July party.
4th of July Party Ideas
Whatever you decide to host a 4th of July party, make sure you get the word out. With all these once-a-year offers and red, white, and blue promotions, that means making the most of photos and social media. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- A photo of a demo batch of your upcoming special posted on your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and beyond.
- A tray of Jell-O shots arranged in an American flag shape as your new Facebook Timeline photo.
- Holiday-themed recipes and pictures of your restaurant posted to your Pinterest page.
- An email newsletter mailing to your list, inviting subscribers to celebrate with you.
- Use restaurant reservation websites to promote holiday-themed specials.
- Online advertisements can be placed on Facebook or on Google. These can help target local web users who may be unfamiliar with your business currently.
- Restaurant apps, which are currently part of your branding strategy, can host holiday-themed content and promotion
You get the idea. And, if you’re hosting a (socially-distanced) 4th of July event, make sure to take lots of pictures to use in promoting real-time—people will tag themselves in your Facebook albums—and in promotions for next year’s event.