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5 Thanksgiving holiday prep ideas for Restaurants and Bars in 2022

This Thanksgiving, put some sales on the table with Otter’s Guide to Thanksgiving Prep for Restaurants and Bars in 2022!

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Thanksgiving prep is a must for restaurants and bars looking to boost sales this November. Between Thanksgiving Eve, Friendsgiving, and Black Friday, the holiday rush can feel hectic for both you and your customers. However, planning ahead will ensure less chaos and more profit this holiday season. 

Before we get into our best tips for Thanksgiving prep, check out these stats: 

  • Last Thanksgiving, Americans spent an estimated $927 million on turkey.
  • This year, over 33 million diners are expected to order food in or dine out on Thanksgiving Day.
  • In 2019, bars saw an increase of 173% in sales of shots on Thanksgiving Eve compared to the previous Wednesday.
  • Thanksgiving Eve is the most profitable night of the year for bars.

So what are the best ways to prepare your restaurant or bar for the Thanksgiving rush? From marketing to staffing, this article is the ultimate guide to Thanksgiving prep for restaurants and bars in 2022.

5 Thanksgiving Holiday Prep Ideas for Restaurants and Bars in 2022

1. Support your Customers’ Friendsgiving Plans 

Friendsgiving is a popular new trend with American Millennials and Gen Z centered around spending Thanksgiving with friends instead of (or in addition to) family. Due to soaring food prices, however, many of your customers will likely be contemplating if celebrating Friendsgiving in 2022 is really worth it. 

A recent survey found that 33% of respondents celebrating Friendsgiving plan to serve pizza instead of turkey this year –so if your restaurant serves pizza, this Thanksgiving is your time to shine! If pizza isn’t on your menu,  don’t worry – your restaurant or bar can still play into Friendsgiving by offering deals for groups, promotions, and limited-time offers.

Since your customers are on a significant budget right now, audit your menu for discount opportunities, and offer savings where you can. Make sure you add some holiday flair to your promotions, and market them on social media!

2. Focus on Thanksgiving Eve 

Your customers are gearing up for a big day of cooking and cleaning on Thanksgiving Day. That said, many will be inclined to order-in food the night before. In fact, Thanksgiving Eve was one of the holidays that drove the most delivery sales on Doordash in 2020. Consider running promotions on third-party apps to drive Thanksgiving Eve delivery sales with Promotions – Otter’s automated marketing solution.

Since many people will be back in their hometowns for the holiday, make sure to offer all the drink deals possible to drive foot traffic to your business. Lastly, many bars and restaurants are closed during the holiday. Staying open late is a great way to drive “Drinksgiving” sales, and can help you get more orders for your customers with drunchies (drunk munchies).

3. Plan Ahead with Your Staff

Thanksgiving can be tricky for staffing. Planning ahead to ensure your restaurant or bar isn’t over - or understaffed is essential for avoiding a hectic work week. First, start by scheduling a meeting with your staff. Print out a calendar for all upcoming holidays to see which days your employees are available on. Of course, asking your team to spend time away from their loved ones and work on a holiday can be challenging, so make sure you provide those employees willing to work with an incentive and some rewards.

Whether it’s a bottle of wine, a family-style team meal, or a kind note, showing your staff you care goes a long way. Finally, make sure to send out your Thanksgiving staffing schedule early to ensure everyone knows what to expect ahead of time. Creating your holiday staffing schedule in advance will prevent last-minute headaches!

4. Offer Thanksgiving Catering 

Not all of us are great in the kitchen, and many Americans choose to dine at a restaurant  for their Thanksgiving tradition.  Knowing your customer base, consider whether staying open on Thanksgiving could be beneficial to your bottom line. You can also see what other local restaurants’ schedules are – if many of your competitors will be closed, staying open might be a great way to boost sales.

Second, check your menu for Thanksgiving items. Many customers opt to have their Thanksgiving meal catered due to a kitchen disaster, large crowds, or laziness. Some customers choose to supplement their home-cooked meals with restaurant-prepared sides and desserts!

If you can manage it, plan on increasing inventory to offer catered packages for Thanksgiving favorites like mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and fruit bowls.

Lastly, make sure to promote your catering capabilities so that customers can schedule pick-up or delivery at your restaurant in advance. Advertise your catering menu by handing out flyers in your local community, sending emails to your customer list, and over social media. 

5. Plan Sales and Limited-Time Offers 

The Thanksgiving rush is a fantastic marketing opportunity for your business! Many restaurants, bars, and cafes offer seasonal promotions and limited-time sales during the holidays. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the mix, your customers expect to be flooded with special deals and are preparing to… well… spend!

This year, inflation and high food costs are making some customers uncertain about excessive spending – giving them a better bang for their buck is a great way to drive sales. Whether you want to offer to buy one get one free drink deals on Black Friday for customers who need a drink after long lines or reduce the price of Thanksgiving classics, bundles and discounts are appealing to everyone.

You could even host an Instagram giveaway that requires customers to follow your restaurant and repost their story to win a free date night to drive engagement! Be generous with your promotions, and customers will return the favor with their patronage. 

Run Automated Sales with Promotions by Otter

Prioritizing digital marketing campaigns can be hectic during the holiday season. With Otter’s marketing solution, Promotions, you can run strategic promotions across delivery apps with ease all throughout the holiday rush!

Promotions is the latest tool in Otter’s marketing repertoire – a fully-featured promotional solution tailor-made to help you get the most out of running deals, discounts, and specials on today’s top delivery apps. Through an intricate machine-learning-enabled process,  analyzes your digital menu, business details, and performance over various platforms, then creates and hosts strategic promotions.

Additionally, Promotions users on Uber Eats and DoorDash pay less for commissions on orders with promotions! Here’s some more data on how Promotions benefits restaurateurs like you:

  • On average, Promotions users earn 18% more revenue per dollar spent on digital promotions than non-users.
  • The average Promotions user also earns 8% more take-home pay per dollar spent on digital promotions than non-users.
  • Promotions users gain a 5% higher Average Order Value (AOV) than non-users.
  • Most notably, Promotions users who run automated promotions through the service have 21% higher average sales than non-users.

This Thanksgiving, make your customers grateful for delicious food that fits their budget. Get started with Promotions today, and create a promotion that’s right for the dinner table! 

We hope this article provided you with several helpful tools for your Thanksgiving prep. Remember, 33 million diners are looking for a restaurant to dine at or order from on Thanksgiving – make sure yours is one of them! Cheers to increasing sales this Turkey Day. 

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