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Taming the Mother’s Day Monster

Seasoned members of the restaurant industry often face the arrival of Spring with combinations of fear and nausea. It all begins with Easter, which is quickly followed by Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and then it’s suddenly Summer. After the sleepy months of January and February, the onslaught of Mother’s Day can feel more like a punch in the gut than an opportunity. Here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little bit of planning and some simple precautions, Mother’s Day can be as relaxing and enjoyable for you as it will be for all the lucky moms who get to dine in your establishment (well, almost as enjoyable). Here are our tips for transforming your Mother’s Day mess into a Mother’s Day masterpiece.

1. Take Reservations: If you don’t usually accept reservations, consider making an exception for Mother’s Day. Big restaurant holidays like this are always accompanied by some uncontrollable forms of chaos, but reservations allow you and your staff to be prepared for the pace of the day. Be sure to let your regular guests know what you’re up to, though. You don’t want to have to turn them away on Mother’s Day because they didn’t realize they needed a reservation.

2. Don’t Overbook: As tempting as it may be to squeeze in every last guest, it’s important to be realistic with your book. Consider having just two or three seatings, and stick to them. Remember that you want not only to acquire new guests, but also to keep them coming back. Overbooking puts too much pressure on your staff, and everyone, including your guests, will suffer for it.

3. Don’t Understaff: It may seem prudent to cut back on labor, and there are times when you can successfully do so. Mother’s Day is not one of those times. Make sure that you have all hands on deck and that everyone clearly understands his or her role. (Having extra staff won’t help a bit unless each team member has a clear, achievable objective.)

4. Limit Your Menu: Don’t offer your full menu on holidays like Mother’s Day. The kitchen will be completely spun, your servers will be frustrated, and operations could potentially come to a screeching halt mid-service. Instead, consider either offering a limited menu or a prix fixe.

5. Reward Your Staff: Mother’s Day is hard work for everyone. Tell your staff how much you value and appreciate their hard work, and then show them by bringing in a box of doughnuts or offering a small bonus. Always keep in mind that a happy staff means happy, well-served, satisfied guests.

We’re convinced that if you take a few precautions and dutifully follow some of these small bits of wisdom, you can effectively tame the Mother’s Day monster. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. What steps are you taking to make sure your Mother’s Day goes smoothly? Please feel free to leave a comment below.