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Freshening Up: Preparing Your Restaurant for Spring

With the first day of spring in the rearview window and the Easter Bunny making an early appearance, it's time for restaurants to do some serious spring cleaning, prepare outdoor seating, and evaluate warm-weather marketing strategies.

Spring is also a good time to reconnect with local farmers and co-ops, re-evaluate your social media schedule, and plan spring event and holiday menus. With Passover (4/22 to 30) and Mother’s Day (5/14) just around the corner,  it’s time to start strategizing fresh ways to boost traffic to your website and dining room.  

Other key promotional events to take advantage of in the spring include Earth Day, (4/22) The Masters, (4/11 - 14) Kentucky Derby (5/3 & 4), and the start of professional baseball (opening day 3/28.)

Spring Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting 

Spring is the time to dust off the winter cobwebs and get down to the business of freshening up.

The first step in the spring cleaning process involves removing dirt, spills, food particles, dust, and any other contaminants by washing, brushing, or wiping. Though this process is surface level and does not eliminate germs, it can help reduce their numbers. While this is a step that should be done on an ongoing basis, springtime adds the opportunity to open windows, air out kitchens and dining rooms, shake off carpets and area rugs, and clean exterior windows and doors.

Sanitizing reduces microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi on surfaces after they have been cleaned. To meet industry requirements, sanitizing chemicals must kill 99.999% of the test bacteria in under 30 seconds. Though this process is an essential preventative measure to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria, sanitizing does not kill all surface viruses.

Disinfecting, on the other hand,  which can kill nearly 100% of bacteria, viruses, and fungi and  target specific disease-carrying microorganisms, should be incorporated year-round and leveled up during a deep spring cleaning. Mopping behind appliances, scrubbing underneath counters, and paying attention to overlooked nooks-and-crannies, disinfecting is crucial to getting your warm weather operations off to a great start. 

To create a fresh, clean, and safe space, check out our Ultimate Restaurant Cleaning Checklist. 

Planning for Unplanned Inspections

If you've been in the food game for any length of time, you've experienced that sinking feeling that comes when an inspector makes a surprise appearance. It can happen at any time from the middle of the lunchtime rush to a day when your dishwasher is out sick.  

Though inspections help you stay on your toes and provide an unbiased assessment of the safety and cleanliness of your restaurant, if violations are found, it  could lead to fines and even closures.

To avoid hefty penalties, (or worse) it’s critical to be prepared at all times. Being ready for unannounced visits no matter what time of day or situation requires that your kitchen is consistently checked, rechecked, and checked again so you won’t be caught ill-prepared when a clipboard-bearing inspector suddenly walks through your door. 

Because it’s important to be aware of what the health inspector will be looking for, it’s a good idea to self-inspect on a regular basis. We’ve put together a thorough Restaurant Health and Safety Inspection Checklist to get you started. 

Re-Connect with Local Farmers 

Spring is a great time to partner with local farms, co-ops, and farmers’ markets. If you’re like many restaurants, you may have already developed solid relationships with local produce businesses.

But if you haven’t done so already, consider striking up some of these mutually beneficial relationships. With supply issues and inflationary prices constantly affecting the food industry, going local helps to prevent world or nation-wide industry issues from affecting your business. 

Plan your Spring Menus

With the help of your chef and cooking staff, begin to plan new  minimal viable  menu offerings for the warmer season ahead so you can order ingredients, prepare staff schedules, and create marketing promotions around the upcoming holidays. 

  • Add Seasonal Items

Everyone craves the classic dishes served at Passover and Easter, but few relish the time and effort that goes into preparing them. Even if your restaurant does  not normally offer items like ham, matzo ball soup, or corned beef brisket, this is one time of year where making an exception is likely to pay off.

  • Limited Time Offers (LTO)

Take your seasonal menu up a notch using scarcity marketing tactics like a limited-time offers to drive urgency.  

  • Think Family Style

Many families and groups plan gatherings over the holidays. Create family-size menus that serve 6-10 guests to tap into this segment of customers. 

  • Create a Variety of Catering Packages

Go bigger than family-size by creating a catering menu that can serve parties of all sizes. Create catering packages for larger events, keeping individual customers in mind too. Many people would be happy to incorporate a few of your holiday items into their dinner spread to save on time and hassle, so don't forget to advertise this option to keep your customers in the know.

  • Announce Hours of Operation

If you plan to be open on Easter, be sure to promote your hours on your website and social media channels. Since many businesses are closed on this holiday, be sure to let your customers know if you'll be available for delivery, take-out, and catering, or if you will be taking reservations. This is an excellent opportunity to reach new customers who may be looking for a holiday brunch or dinner offerings. Start promoting your holiday hours now so customers can plan ahead.

Spring Holidays and Events 

Easter : March 31, 2024

While many folks are happy to cook for a crowd, it's like that many of your customers would appreciate a little help from their favorite restaurant. By offering ingredients and instructions for traditional menu items like lamb, glazed carrots, ham, or Easter pie, meal kits are great for making the holidays stress-free for your customers. 

Create easy-to-follow  recipe cards for customers to put the finishing touches on these dishes. The benefits are twofold: dishes can be pre-ordered and arrive cold, so you don’t have to worry about the logistical headache of keeping meals hot during the delivery process and taking payment ahead of time guarantees online ordering revenue. 

Consider coming up with holiday-inspired ideas like an easter egg-salad platter or bunny pancakes. And don’t forget to add mouthwatering photos to attract customer orders to your online menu. 

Passover for Hebrew Year 5784: Sundown April 22 to 30, 2024

To help families face the challenge of feeding a crowd and maintain a modicum of organization, restaurants that offer Passover dinners and catering could be the answer to their prayers. 

Whether it be a few sides or starters (matzo ball soup, chopped liver, or gefilte fish), kosher-for-passover desserts, or a full-course dinner including brisket, roast chicken, or salmon, any help will be much appreciated.  To make the festivities even more authentic, consider offering your online customers a link to downloadable Passover Haggadah. 

Mothers Day: May 14, 2024

The busiest holiday of the year for restaurants,  putting a focus on Mother’s Day could mean a big boost in your restaurant’s bottom line.  

You’ll be competing against a lot of other businesses for Mother’s Day revenue, so it’s important to go the extra mile to grab those May-day dollars. Aside from restaurants, you’ll be up against theaters, concert venues, flower shows, garden centers, and art festivals, so coming up with some great menu offerings is only half the battle. 

  • Offer Enticing Deals

Consider running a “Buy One, Get One” promotion on mom’s big day, offering a free meal for mom with the purchase of another meal. You can also attach a dollar amount to the offer such as “Get a free meal for mom with every $50 ticket.” or “Bring the Family and Mom Dines Free (with purchase of $100).”

  • Highlight Inclusivity

Just as the definition of family is always evolving, there are multiple definitions of a “Mom’ as well.  Some families have two moms, two dads, Mr. Moms, or multiple “moms,” so make sure your customer base knows all versions of mothers and families are welcome to share in your promotional offerings.  

  • Capitalize on Cocktails 

Wine sales on Mother’s Day are actually 16% higher than the rest of the year – that’s 7% higher than Valentine’s Day! To capitalize on this, offer creative cocktail specials and consider adding a special wine bar menu for the special day.  

Earth Day: April 22, 2024

For restaurants, Earth Day and Earth Month are good times to tap into your eco-minded customers' hunger for sustainable businesses.  Earth Day menu items are a hit because they make consumers feel like they are using their dollars to make a difference. To help honor Earth month, consider creating special dishes made up of eco-friendly foods that don’t require synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, or conventional pesticides to attract earth-conscious customers. 

Start planning now for some eco-centric programs that promote sustainability such as recycling programs, planting an organic community garden, organizing an employee park clean-up program, or promoting products or menu items made with locally sourced ingredients. Get creative with some Earth Day promotions like an Ugly Fruit contest or holding an art competition for designing reusable containers at a local school or community center. 

Spring Sports

MLB Opening Day: March 28, 2024

Getting in the swing of spring by creating a special baseball-themed menu celebrating MLB’s opening days is always a winning strategy for restaurants. Even if you don’t normally sell them, featuring hot dogs and apple pie on your restaurant’s menu will get your customers excited about the arrival of baseball season.

The Masters: April 11 to 14, 2024 

Considered the start of the golf season, the Masters Tournament  is the first of the men's four major golf championships. The 88th edition of the tournament, the Masters, will be played from April 11–14, 2024 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, United States.

Kentucky Derby:  May 3 & 4, 2024

Horse racing enthusiasts from all over the nation will be glued to TVs to watch the 2024 Kentucky Derby on May 3rd and 4th. Often referred to as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports," the Kentucky Derby is a prestigious horse race held annually in Louisville, Kentucky that marks the first leg of the Triple Crown. 

Whether you’re planning to host a watch party or just want to take advantage of the many fans watching at home, get your promotions ready now so you’ll be ready at the starting gate!


By Eileen Strauss


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