6 Tips to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Your Restaurant

By Andrea Victory

Cinco de mayo decorated in marker on a calendar

At home in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is mostly a commemorative and political holiday, but outside of the Mexican border, places around the world dish up salsa and guacamole, mix margaritas, and take to the streets to celebrate with fervor. In fact, National Today found that 59% of Americans enjoy Mexican food and 32% drink margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. With so many consumers eager to celebrate, Cinco de Mayo can be a fun and valuable event for your venue – bringing in new clients, offering an opportunity to create new dishes, and boosting your business.

Patrons across the globe will be looking to join in on the fun and enjoy a few cervezas on May 5th, so get a head start on planning your own Mexican fiesta. Here are 6 tips that will help you make the most of Cinco de Mayo in your establishment.

1. Promote Pre-Cinco

Marketing promotion is all about repetition, so the more time you spend on it and the frequency of your communications will dictate the demand you’ll drive to your business. Get on your social media accounts and start promoting 1-2 weeks beforehand. By tracking likes, shares and comments, you’ll get a sense for the expected crowd, so you can anticipate covers and turns, schedule additional staff, and get your patrons excited for what you have planned.

Tip: Create a contest to share across your social media profiles: Ask followers to share your Facebook event, tag their friends in your Instagram post, or tweet using a special hashtag like #CincodeMayoYourRestaurant. This will help you track entries and choose a winner. As for the prize, make sure it’s relevant to the event. For example, the person with the most shares and likes gets a free order of enchiladas. Be sure to clarify that the prize is to be claimed on the night of your event.

2. Plan a Mexican Menu

Whether you’re a multi-level restaurant, a quiet cafe, or a busy food truck, you can gain inspiration from the vast array of delicious Mexican recipes. Add a special selection of apps, or have all of your daily specials include Mexican ingredients. Whether you choose to add a taco to your food truck’s menu for the day, or do a full out Mexican-inspired prix-fixe, encourage your customers to celebrate by trying something new.

Think about what your restaurant is known for. Do you have a kickin’ pulled pork sandwich or make the best green juice in town? Weave Mexican influence into what your menu’s strengths are to give customers a reason to celebrate with you. A featured pulled pork taco or limited edition green juice margarita will give your menu a celebratory feel and can help get new faces in the door.

Tip: Whatever you create, be sure to ask for lots of feedback. A themed menu selection may end up being such a hit with patrons that you consider keeping it on the menu permanently or featuring it as a special on a regular basis.

3. Designate Drink Specials

Up there with St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo is one of the most popular holidays for enjoying spirits. Take this opportunity to feature Mexican imports like tequilas and bottled beers, or try a new take on a margarita using your restaurant’s theme as a starting point. Customize the classic Mexican cocktail with your menu’s flavors. For example, if you’re known for your craft ale selection, make a beer-garita with a local lager, or if you make an awesome homemade hot-sauce, try a spicy lime margarita.

Tip: Use your POS to customize your happy hour deals by item, day, and time. Most point of sale systems, like TouchBistro, will adjust the prices when the deal’s active, and reset back to default amounts once happy hour is over, helping your business drive the most revenue.

4. Add Extra Flair With Music & Decor

Nothing quite literally signals a party like colorful decorations strung from corner to corner. Chili pepper lights, colorful garlands, cocktail umbrellas and paper flowers evoke fiesta vibes, establishing the atmosphere for patrons as soon as they walk through the door. Once your party is embellished with festive flourishes, set the mood with traditional Mexican music from a Mariachi band, or stream Mexican folk music like Norteño and Corrido.

Tip: Think of ways to incorporate special decorative touches into your establishment in a unique way. It could be choosing brightly colored napkins for your cafe clientele, ordering intensely pigmented flowers for your fine-dining establishment, or stringing up tons of stenciled paper flags for your bar and eatery.  

5. Educate Your Customers

Inform your customers about the history behind Cinco de Mayo and why you are participating. Take time to build knowledge around your food and drink specials, educating staff and encouraging them to pass the info onto diners. List fun facts on your Cinco de Mayo menu, share information about ingredients, and note the region dishes originated from. That way, you’ll not only offer a stellar dining experience, but a great learning one as well. 

Tip: Don’t neglect the value of giving customers insights into your menu creation – how and why you created a special new dish, or the bartender’s process for developing a new drink. Learning about your venue can create a special bond in the customer’s mind, making them feel like an insider, which will go a long way when it comes to building a loyal relationship.

6. Keep it PC

While there may be an inclination to have a poke at stereotypes, be aware of anything that may be perceived as offensive, insensitive or vulgar. Capitalizing on Cinco de Mayo can be a smart move for your business, as it offers an opportunity to bring people together. Make sure that you are celebrating and promoting Mexican culture in a positive and festive manner and not appropriating or condoning bad behavior.

Tip: Make sure that your messaging from pre-Cinco to post-party is in the tone of positivity. Share Spanish phrases and messages, tidbits of Mexican history, and fun cultural facts with an attitude of respect and dignity.

Here’s a mini cheat-sheet of relevant info you can incorporate into your festivities – on us!

A Quick History of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo directly translates to “5th of May”, in reference to the Battle of Puebla. On this day in 1862, the Mexican army defeated the much bigger and stronger French army in an unlikely win, boosting the country’s morale and sense of national pride after years of war.

Fun Facts About Cinco de Mayo

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the TouchBistro Cinco de Mayo Pinterest board for recipes and decor ideas.

Photo of Andrea Victory
by Andrea Victory

Andrea was a Content Marketing Specialist and Editor at TouchBistro where she wrote about restaurant and dining trends, restaurant management, and food culture. A self-affirmed food geek, Andrea devours cookbooks and food blogs. She also knows how to make a killer kale salad.

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