April 21, 2021

A motherlode of Mother’s Day dining ideas

Offer to capture a photo of the family as they celebrate mom. Use hand sanitizer before and after handling the phone.

Mother’s Day is traditionally the most popular holiday for dining out, with more than one-third of adults typically going out to a restaurant for a special meal, according to National Restaurant Association research. While this year is far from typical, many families still want to celebrate Mom—either by dining out or ordering in restaurant meals.

Looking for ways to capture a slice of that business this Mother’s Day, May 9? Try these 10 ways to make mom feel special.

  1. Offer the complete dine-in experience. Celebrate in style with multicourse prix-fixe meals. The upscale Rat’s Restaurant in Hamilton, N.J., is offering a four-course extravaganza, culminating with a selection of bite-sized dessert tapas, including “Dulce Sea Salt Tart,” “Mini Key Lime Pie,” and “Lemon Curd & Blueberry Tart.” A kids’ menu is available for those under 12.
  2. Be ready to go! Make hosting simple for families celebrating at home by offering meal bundles, whether it’s a bagel platter with all the shmears or a prime rib dinner, complete with salad, sides, biscuits, and dessert. Promote other to-go specials that give Mom the day off from cooking. Fast-casual Chicken Salad Chick’s nearly 200 locations are offering a pre-holiday “buy one, get one free” deal on large “Quick Chick” grab-and-go containers of its 12 chicken salad varieties.
  3. Celebrate Mother Nature. Highlight your outdoor dining options this Mother’s Day. Given pandemic concerns, some guests may prefer being outside. Plus, the mid-spring weather is often perfect for al fresco dining. If needed, expand outdoor seating by safely cordoning off a parking lot area; dress up the space with tablecloths and flowers in inexpensive vases (include the flowers as a takeaway gift!).
  4. Shower mom with flowers. Speaking of flowers, thank each mom with a complimentary long-stemmed rose. Or team up with a local florist to add a floral-arrangement to your to-go packages. Nick’s on Broadway in Providence, R.I., offered a one-stop package last year, complete with brunch, a floral arrangement, and sparkling rosé.
  5. Make it a picture-perfect day. With many grandparents recently vaccinated against COVID-19, Mother’s Day offers the first chance for some families to celebrate together in over a year. Help your guests capture the moment by taking family photos. Consider setting up a holiday-themed branded back-drop, perfect for social media posts.
  6. Show some love. For an eye-catching Instagrammable promo, serve up heart-shaped specialties. Nothing says “I love you” like a heart-shaped pizza, traditionally a hit at both Papa John’s and California Pizza Kitchen. In past years, Einstein Bros. Bagels crafted heart-shaped chocolate chip bagels, and quickservice Bojangles fashioned Heart-Shaped Bo-Berry Biscuits. This year, Best Buns, in Shirlington and Vienna, Va., will be baking frosted heart-shaped sugar-cookies, adorned with “Mom” in icing.
  7. Sweeten the deal with a free dessert. Reward mom with her “just desserts,” whether it’s a springtime classic like strawberry shortcake or a luscious favorite like chocolate lava cake. Offer a selection of sweet treats to encourage the rest of the family to indulge by ordering their own desserts.
  8. Put a buffer around the buffet. Given public health concerns, some eateries are opting for plated meals, rather than a buffet this year. Others, like 30 Main in Berwyn, Pa., have modified its buffet to meet safety protocols. The restaurant moved its buffet outdoors and installed plastic barriers. Servers wearing masks and gloves plate the foods, and hosts call tables up individually to avoid crowding and keep up social distancing. Servers will put appetizers on tables such as pastries and fruit just as guests arrive to streamline the buffet selection. To create a festive vibe, “we’ll have jazz music going and Bloody Marys flowing,” says chef/owner Michael DiDomenico.
  9. Cheers to mama! Toast mom with specials on “momosas,” Bahama mamas, wine, and champagne. Promote drinks that fit your concept, be it “beermosas” if you specialize in craft beers, or sangria for a tapas joint. Consider offering cocktail kits and wine add-ons with to-go meals. Be sure to comply with local regulations for off-premises alcohol sales. Check out our State Alcohol Delivery Laws/Orders/Regulations tracker, compiled by National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Training and Certification Compliance team.
  10. Give the gift of giving. Promote your gift card sales by providing an incentive to buy. The Cheesecake Factory offers customers a $10 bonus card to keep for themselves for every online gift card purchase of $50, April 29-May 9. This bounce-back promotion will boost sales long past Mother’s Day!