Out of all the ‘holidays’ we celebrate, it’s safe to say that spoiling our parents is probably the most satisfying. Let’s face it, being a mum or dad is a tough job, so taking a day to recognise this and treat them to some top nosh and pampering is definitely a good thing.
This year, Mother’s Day falls on Sunday 26th March and with only a few weeks to prepare we look at the traditions behind it, with some suggestions to help treat mums, partners and grandmothers to a meal to remember.
The history of Mother’s Day in the UK and Ireland is linked with religion. It is traditionally called Mothering Sunday and is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Centuries ago, most churchgoers worshiped in their nearest parish or ‘daughter church’ and it was seen as important to return to their ‘mother church’, which would be the main church or cathedral in the area. Inevitably this return, which usually happened on ‘Laetare Sunday’ – the middle of Lent, became an occasion for family reunions when children who were working away, often as domestic servants, returned home. The children would bring flowers that they picked along the way to take to church to give to their mothers. Over the decades, a number of women lobbied for it to become an official holiday and its celebration rose in popularity. It was widely accepted by the 1950s and the holiday began to become more commercial since then to present day.
Timing can be everything
Most families dine out for Mother’s Day making it one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. According to the National Restaurants Association in the U.S., about 80 million adults will spend Mother’s Day outside of their homes and 55% of these will dine in restaurants. Out of the total number, 55% will celebrate by going out to dinner, 34% will go to lunch, 30% for Brunch and 12% of them will have breakfast.
In a restaurant, the key to a successful Mother’s Day is knowing your clientele and planning your offering to suit them. There’s no point doing breakfast, lunch and dinner if all your bookings are going to be for the morning and you will be empty by 2pm. There is also no point in offering too many menus when one specially-selected and carefully-promoted menu is enough.
Making it special
The most effective method to making a special Mother’s Day experience in your restaurant is to control your food offering to a limited number of dishes, focus on how you can add value and having a strategy in place to keep children entertained; happy kids equals happy parents.
Whether you offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, promoting your special ‘Mother’s Day Menu’ ahead of time is essential. Announce your opening hours and menu online on your website and/or social media platforms at least two weeks before the day – family occasions are always organised so bookings will be imminent. Sharing the menu online creates excitement and inviting diners who’ve booked to share it with their mums will make the event more special.
Room presentation is key and will add to the overall enjoyment. Fresh flowers do a lot to create mood and having some on each table will definitely benefit the experience. You can never have enough flowers.
A drink for mum on arrival would be an added bonus, if possible, and great way to start the meal. Another idea is offering petit fours (wrapped in cellophane) to mums at the end of the meal as a take home souvenir or a discount on mum’s meal.
If you do not have them in your restaurant already, getting some kids high chairs for the day would be a good idea. Create a corner in your restaurant that is for ‘kids only’ to keep them busy doing quiet activities such as drawing or making cards for mum and will give parents some time to themselves, perhaps between courses or at the end of the meal.
The creation of a Mother’s Day Menu, separate from your usual menu, offers regulars something new to look forward to. Creating a few dishes that are family friendly and appeal to many is key. Keep the menu light and offer a few dessert options, even if you’re just offering breakfast or brunch, as your diners will be in the mood to celebrate!
Half portions will serve as a kids menu rather than creating specific dishes for children, but be prepared for special requests for children or special dietary requirements.
Remembering the moment
Ask your diners to post a group photo of the people at their table on your social media pages with #mothersday for a chance to win a voucher for dinner or some other prize – it’s only a few weeks to Easter so a hamper or egg would be a good idea. This is a clever way to get marketing on the day, but also to get families to share the moment and have something to remember their visit.