Hopping on spring restaurant trends is the easiest way for your restaurant to take advantage of the new promotional season.
Springtime has historically been viewed as a time of renewal and rebirth, but that theme is especially apropos this year as many states lift COVID restrictions, allowing greater freedom for restaurant owners and diners alike.
As options increase, so does the competitive atmosphere that makes the hospitality industry so exciting. Now more than ever, restaurants have to use promotions to stay relevant and increase the likelihood they’ll come out ahead when it’s time for consumers to order their favorite meal.
While there are a multitude of ways for restaurants to capitalize on all springtime has to offer, leveraging restaurant trends (think spring promotional holidays) and creating a diverse marketing strategy reign supreme.
Spring holidays are inherently fun, but they also present an opportunity for creative restaurant promotions that serve both on-premise and off-premise diners.
Holidays and special events are especially exciting for restaurants that offer delivery because nowadays, so many people prefer to focus on hanging out with friends or watching their team vie for the pennant than to spend the day in the kitchen. For some holidays, like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, ordering in gives the person who usually prepares meals a much-needed day off.
And sometimes a holiday is just a great excuse to eat foods that are hugely popular anyway. Grubhub tracked food trends and consumer preferences in 2021 to see what might trend in 2022, and the results were both surprising and delicious.
Shredded pork tacos more than tripled in popularity over the last year, and the popularity of pub mac and cheese (a favorite at many Irish bars) nearly doubled. This trend report might give you an idea of what people might want to order on Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day. But you can always get creative and have your chef play off these trends too.
The six big delivery days for spring promotions are:
- March’s Big Basketball Tournament: Sports championships and food go hand in hand. For restaurants, March’s major basketball tournament means lots of ordering throughout the day (games run morning, noon, and night!) and some restaurants even get huge catering orders from the teams themselves. For more tips on how to feed your hungry fans, read here.
- St. Patrick’s Day: St. Patrick’s Day is technically a religious celebration, but in America it’s evolved into a showcase of Irish culture including lots of beer and whiskey and both traditional and Americanized versions of Irish food favorites like colcannon, shepherd’s pie, soda bread, fish and chips, and a full Irish breakfast. Use these pot of gold tips to help you capitalize on one of the biggest restaurant holidays of the season.
- Easter: Easter brunch is a time-honored tradition, but who says it has to be in a restaurant? People still interested in isolating or who would rather be with family at home than in a noisy restaurant have brunch delivered so it’s easier to go straight from pancakes and eggs to the annual Easter egg hunt.
- Earth Day: Earth Day is all about honoring the planet, so it might be the perfect time to encourage customers to try out plant-based menu items they can get delivered right to their door. For bonus points, be sure to ask whether condiments and utensils are necessary and be mindful of your packaging.
- Cinco de Mayo: The fifth-most popular menu item of all 2021 was the margarita. For restaurants that can deliver alcohol, Cinco de Mayo is the perfect time to put together family-sized taco bundles that include drinks, chips and pico de gallo (2021’s most popular side dish), and a variety of main dishes. Or, leave out the alcohol and focus on the food — both ideas work!
- Mother’s Day: Moms deserve to be pampered. They also deserve a break. For decades, Mother’s Day has been the most popular day for dining out in the U.S. Use promos to ensure your line for in-house dining is the longest and double-down on delivery deals to increase your off-premise revenue stream at the same time.
How to Create Holiday-Based Promos for your restaurant
Once you have a handle on which holidays you’d like to leverage, it’s time to create promotions that play on key holiday concepts. These ideas follow the same types of promotions you’d use for other sales pushes, just with a holiday twist.
- Free menu items: Give away a free menu time with the purchase of another, such as an appetizer for Mom on Mother’s Day when you purchase an entrée
- Discounted menu section: Consider discounting an entire menu section that speaks to the holiday at hand — giving 15% off all shareable appetizers for game day is just one example
- Fixed amount off: Offer a specific, pre-set amount off your entire money order for new customers trying out your restaurant on a spring holiday
- Percentage off: Appeal to existing and potential customers alike with a fixed percentage off orders on a specific holiday or during a specific time frame (happy hour on St. Patrick’s Day or “afternoon picnic time” on Earth Day)
Promoting Your Restaurant on Social Media
Next up on your spring restaurant trends to-do list is ensuring your customers know what promotions you’re running. That’s where social media comes in.
You’re probably already using social media posts to connect with your core demographic and generate buzz for everything from Taco Tuesday to special wine dinners. That makes sense, given that nearly half of diners in the U.S. say they end up trying out a new restaurant because of a post they saw on social media.
You can use this social media blueprint to get the word out about your spring promotions, including:
- Fill your Instagram stories with photos and videos of holiday-related content, such as the back-of-house team preparing game-day appetizers or your front-of-house team decorating for St. Patrick’s Day. Then, tack on a text overlay with details of your holiday promo
- Share photos of holiday specials and relevant menu items that are being prepared and serve with a caption explaining how diners can indulge in those items in-house or order delivery
- Take advantage of the power of video content (it generates 1200% more shares than text and image-based combined) by using reels, Tik-Toks, or even Facebook lives to show off the people and food behind your holiday promos
- Create a holiday-related contest that encourages users to generate their own content and share it with a branded hashtag attached. Think dressing up for Cinco de Mayo or seeing who can cut and dice avocados the quickest for a #YourRestaurantAvocadoChallenge
However you choose to share info on social media, make sure you also share how customers can order takeout and delivery. This might mean including a link to your own website or, better yet, posting your Grubhub Direct order ink so all those tasty corned beef egg rolls and handmade tamales are just a couple clicks away.
Also keep in mind that Grubhub’s restaurant partners have access to free promotional and marketing tools that make it easy to create and run promotions for your customers.
Key Restaurant Menu Trends for Spring
In addition to specific holiday promotions, keep an eye on general spring restaurant industry food trends worth incorporating into your menu
- Comfort food: Thanks to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 became the year of the comfort food comeback, and that trend hasn’t stopped. Even as the world opens back up, expect customers to order comfort food they can enjoy at home in, well, comfort.
- Fresh ingredients: Diners love transparency. Consider revamping your menu descriptions to describe where your ingredients come from or include that information on your website.
- Vegan friendly food: The sale of plant-based foods has grown by 43% over the last two years. People — vegan and omnivore alike — are gravitating toward plant-based meals in flocks.
- Sober-curious beverages: Mocktails are for everyone. Designing a menu that includes non-alcoholic beverages that still feel special caters to people interested in self-care and wellness.
- Seafood spotlight for lent: This trend is definitely spring specific and perhaps even regional, but for those interested in non-meat options for religious reasons, designing promos and special menu items around fish fry’s and the like can result in a major bump in revenue.
National Food Holidays for Spring 2022
The same way spring holidays can drive your promotional schedule, national food holidays serve as a source of inspiration for chefs, owners, and guests looking for more ways to take advantage of this year’s restaurant industry trends.
Make sure to mark these dates in your restaurant’s promotional calendar to stay ahead of your marketing strategy.
- National Pancake Day, March 1
- National Meatball Day, March 9
- National Pi Day, March 14
- National Ravioli Day, March 20
- National Cheesesteak Day, March 24
- International Waffle Day, March 25
- National Deep-Dish Pizza Day, April 5
- National Burrito Day, April 7
- National Empanada Day, April 8
- National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, April 12
- National Cheddar Fries Day, April 20
- National Cherry Cheesecake Day, April 23
- National Blueberry Pie Day, April 28
- National Hoagie Day, May 5
- National Coconut Cream Pie Day, May 8
- National Barbecue Day, May 16
- National Pizza Party Day, May 20
- National Blueberry Cheesecake Day, May 26
- National Hamburger Day, May 28
Interested in more ways to infuse your content calendar with delicious ideas year-round? Download our National Food Holiday Guide and see how you can use holiday-related discounts and tailored menus to attract more off-premise customers and increase your check average.
How to Make Your Restaurant Promotions Count
As you dig into spring restaurant trends and promos, try not to get overwhelmed. Start with a few that are most relevant to your restaurant and that you think your diners will love and go from there.
Remember, running a successful national food holiday promotion requires strategy, engagement, and good old-fashioned entertainment on social media. That’s why we put together the Grubhub Guide to National Food Holiday to make your promos truly count!