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According to the restaurant sales forecast report released this month by restaurant management platform Upserve, the biggest day for food sales in the month of February is Valentine’s Day, hands down. This is the first chance restaurants have for recovery coming out of the January slump, when food sales drop 26 percent nationwide. But, immediately after Valentine’s Day, an often overlooked holiday weekend can also help restaurateurs move out of the red and into the black.

While sales of certain menu items dip after Valentine’s Day–for instance, wine sales are 5 percent lower nationwide on Presidents Day than they were on Feb. 14–beer sales actually increase 8.5 percent nationwide.

This year, Presidents Day falls on Feb. 20, and if 2017’s numbers are any indication, restaurateurs may be able to give their Q1 sales a chance to recover, if they can harness the trends in their area.

Start the Friday Before

Due to its proximity to Valentine’s Day, the Friday before Presidents Day is a perfect storm of romance and leisure. Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, kicked off the three-day-long Presidents Day weekend, which was the first many had enjoyed since the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday a month prior. Further, as Valentine’s Day fell midweek, many couples put off their big date night until the weekend.

Nationwide, there was a 10 percent increase in food sales, with the Southern region of the United States enjoying the largest spike at 22 percent above the February national average.

Midwesterners proved their love for a strong drink when they purchased 18 percent more hard alcohol and 22.5 percent more beer than the national average for the month of February. But the Midwest wasn’t alone in their thirst. On Feb. 17, 2017, Northeasterners consumed 31 percent more wine the than the February national average.

This year, the Friday before Presidents Day falls on Feb. 16. This is a great time for restaurants in the Midwest to add beer bucket or cocktail specials, while their counterparts in the Northeast might consider a good wine flight.

The Western region saw a 8 percent rise in food sales above the February national average on the 17th, which was the largest spike in sales surrounding the Presidents Day holiday for any menu category in that region.  

Presidents Day

Presidents Day often kicks off schools’ winter breaks each year, which may prompt many parents to take the week off as well.

The sharpest nationwide spike in sales came from beer on Feb. 20, 2017, which resulted in a 7.75 percent increase over the February average. Average nationwide consumption for any other food or drink item didn’t grow considerably on Presidents Day 2017. Individual regions, however, did see some meaningful increases in specific areas.

The South saw a 15.5 percent increase in food sales over the February 2017 national average, while the Northeast region enjoyed a 23 percent climb in wine sales for the same period. Midwesterners purchased nearly 13 percent more liquor and nearly 17 percent more beer than the Q1 2017 national average on Presidents Day 2017.

Interested in the data behind these Presidents Day statistics, plus even more? Download the free industry report here.

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As part of Upserve’s family of more than 10,000 restaurants, The Chef is Restaurant Insider’s secret weapon in the kitchen. As a restaurant expert in all things marketing, menu building, management, training and more, restaurateurs trust The Chef and the award-winning Restaurant Insider to dish out the ingredients needed to make your business a sweet success.