Memorial Day Restaurant Promotions

Memorial Day is more than just an extra day off from work or school. It’s an opportunity to show your appreciation for those who sacrificed their lives for our country. According to FiveThirtyEight:

  • There are close to 1.4 million people currently serving in the U.S. military—that’s 0.4% of the American population.
  • As of 2014, the Veterans Association estimated there were 22 million military veterans in the U.S. population.
  • 7.3% of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives.

Some people celebrate in their backyards with a BBQ. Some prefer to get out of the house and spend the day at their favorite restaurant. Unfortunately, this Memorial Day weekend is going to be a lot different. Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, many restaurants are completely closed, some in few states have begun to reopen with social-distancing measures, and others have found ways to support themselves with a native online ordering system.  

Despite of the new conditions we’re living in, restaurants are still seeing jumps in revenue on holidays. So this Memorial Day, you’ll want to make sure you’re offering the best menu items and specials so you can still bring in revenue, even if you can’t bring in diners.

Memorial Day Food Ideas

Bring the barbecue to your customers by ramping up your Memorial Day food menu and putting your own twist on classic American dishes. Cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and other summer staples allow a lot of room for creativity. Offer your own take on a timeless dish to attract customers that want a special bite on Memorial Day.

Once you have your menu locked down, it’s time to start planning promotions. 

5 Ideas for Memorial Day Restaurant Specials

1. Create Specials for Veterans & Active Military

It’s important to stay focused on what Memorial Day is really about. The best way to honor our heroes is to keep veterans and active military at the center of the celebration.

There are a few ways that you can give back to the military and their families on Memorial Day weekend. They will appreciate a small token of appreciation for their service. Consider offering a free or discounted meal, a free drink or appetizer, or a dessert special with a military ID. If you use Upserve Online Ordering, our new promo code feature can help you market those discounts to your online customers for curbside takeout or delivery.

2. Open Up Your Patio (If You Can)

As the unofficial start of the summer season, Memorial Day is the perfect opportunity to open your patio. If you have an outdoor dining space, now is it’s time to shine. If there’s nice weather in the forecast for Memorial Day weekend, start thinking about cleaning the space and getting it set up for the end of May. Customers might not be able to sit down and enjoy your food in crowds like they used to, but it could be a fun social-distance waiting area for diners waiting to pick up their food.

Kick-off the season with some decorative lights and festive decor to get your customers excited for what the summer has to hold. If you show them how incredible your patio is now, they’ll be sure to return once things go back to normal and restaurants are allowed to be open to the public.

Consider creating a special menu for your patio to give your customers a reason to step outside and enjoy the sunshine. With a Tableside mobile POS, you can quickly place orders and take contactless payments in the palm of your hand. This provides a more efficient system for serving patio customers, without having to run inside to your terminal every time you take an order.

Military Veterans memorial day

3. Keep It Kid-Friendly

Not only do adults have Memorial Day off from work—kids have the day off from school. This means that children will likely be tagging along with their parents on Memorial Day weekend. This is often a holiday that people spend drinking, but it will be helpful to keep kids in mind when planning your Memorial Day promotions.

Make sure you’ve got your menu set up accordingly. French fries, hot dogs, and hamburgers are classic kid favorites. If you’re stocked up on coloring pages and crayons too, include them in your takeout bags! 

4. Give Back to the Veteran Population

As of April 2020, the veteran unemployment rate is 11.8 percent. Many veterans need assistance, especially in these tough times, and Memorial Day is the perfect opportunity to give back to the veteran community. Here are a few ideas to collect donations and support those who served:

  • Contact your local Veterans Association to find out exactly what types of donations they’re looking for, whether it’s food, clothing, or money.
  • Check in with nonprofits or VAs and ask what items they need to support veterans. Ask customers to bring in a non-perishable food item or an article of unworn clothing in exchange for a discount on their bill.
  • Donate a portion of your Memorial Day proceeds to one of over 7,000 nonprofits that help veterans and military families.

We know right now is a difficult time for everyone, but if your business is still going strong and you’d like to help out those less fortunate, this is a great way time to pull your community together for a good cause.

5. Leverage Social Media

No matter how you choose to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, be sure to spread the word on your social media accounts. Post about your online ordering with a link to your page, show off pictures of the specials you’re offering and spread the word about discounts for veterans. This will help you communicate with your audience and gives them the power to share your promotions with their friends.

Even if you choose not to offer special promotions, be sure to post on your accounts on Memorial Day to honor those who have served our country. Giving back and showing our appreciation for their sacrifice is important for maintaining strong connections to your community.

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Ryan McSweeney started his restaurant career as a dish-washer at the Sundae School Ice Cream Parlor in Dennisport, Massachusetts. For five years he served Cape Cod vacationers the biggest scoops of their favorite flavors. He spent many more years in the service industry, and brings his knowledge and love for the restaurant-world to Upserve where he provides the best restaurant technology to restaurateurs around the country.