Marketing

4th of July Specials for Restaurants: Promotions and Ideas for 2021

By Katie McCann

Illustration of hot dog hamburger and beer in front of an american flag

With so many people out in a sea of stars and stripes on the 4th of July, how do you get them to come to your restaurant? The short answer is offering enticing 4th of July specials.

The right 4th of July specials will drive traffic to your restaurant, helping you take advantage of one of the biggest celebrations of the year. And Independence Day 2021 may be the busiest one yet, with 46% of American consumers reporting that they’re excited to dine out again as pandemic restrictions are loosened.

But as lucrative as this day can be, keep in mind that COVID-19 is still a risk to any unvaccinated guests and staff. This means you’ll have to continue to follow strict safety protocols to make sure everyone is safe and that your restaurant remains on the right side of the law.

To help you along, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to 4th of July restaurant specials that covers:

  • How and when to plan your 4th of July specials
  • What equipment and technology you’ll need
  • 13 creative 4th of July restaurant deals and promotion ideas

Planning 4th of July Specials for Your Restaurant

Like any holiday, you’ll need to prepare in advance to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. To get your restaurant ready for any Independence Day celebrations, here’s everything you need to know.

Decor

Prepare patriotic decor for the big day, while keeping your specific restaurant concept in mind. For example, if you’re a fine dining establishment, diners probably aren’t looking for streamers and balloons everywhere. They’ll appreciate subtlety, such as a beautiful flower arrangement in America’s favorite colors, or one well-crafted menu with a special of the day.

Conversely, if your restaurant is more casual, diners may be more willing to go completely red, white, and blue for the day. In this case, you might want to use balloons and streamers, invest in colored napkins, and even get your staff all dressed up.

Friends dressed up in stars and stripes for Independence Day.

Equipment and Technology

With orders expected to surge on July 4th, make sure you have the right equipment and restaurant technology to safely accommodate big groups or process more online orders. 

Here are the top 4 restaurant technologies you should have ahead of Independence Day 2021:

1. A mobile POS that you can take tableside to capture customer orders. 

A mobile, tablet-based POS streamlines the order process because it allows servers to take orders tableside and send them directly to the kitchen. This means your staff won’t be wasting time running back and forth from a stationary POS terminal on a day when you’ll have plenty of guests. A mobile POS also helps your servers upsell with ease as they can show a mouthwatering photo of a dish to indecisive guests. 

2. A restaurant reservations system that helps you fill tables in advance.

A restaurant reservations system helps you manage all your bookings digitally so you can reduce those dreaded no-shows and ensure you’re maximizing all your available tables – something that’s especially important on a busy holiday like July 4th.

3. An online ordering system that lets you take orders directly from your website, while keeping 100% of the profits.

Delivery is big business for restaurants right now. However, using third-party apps like Uber Eats or DoorDash can come with hefty commission fees – as much as 30% per order! In contrast, using a direct online ordering system like TouchBistro Online Ordering lets you process all those 4th of July takeout and delivery orders directly from your website while keeping 100% of the profits.

4. Payment terminals that allow you to accept contactless payments.

Contactless payments are secure payments made via a credit card or smartphone that require zero contact between the POS terminal and the card or phone. For example, customers will typically hover their card or phone over the card reader when paying for seamless payment. Terminals that allow you to take contactless payments are perfect for holidays like July 4th because they speed up payments and keep the lines moving, while also reducing contact with high-touch surfaces.

Staffing

Proper employee scheduling is crucial, especially on the 4th of July. 

Though you want to make sure you have enough staff to handle a rush of both dine-in and takeout orders, you also want to be careful not to overschedule staff. Check past POS reports to view your labor needs from the year before so you can make informed staffing decisions and avoid having too many staff with nothing to do, or not enough staff to get everything done. 

You’ll also need to implement COVID-19 safety precautions for staff. Make sure you’re following the current COVID-19 safety rules and regulations for your state, which may include providing staff with personal protective equipment.

Finally, consider time-off. You’ll probably get plenty of time-off requests, so set time-off expectations early on when making your employee schedule and give a black-out date for requests. That way, when you’re building the schedule, you know who will be available to work on Independence Day.

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Marketing and Promotions

It doesn’t matter if you have the best staff, decor, equipment, or 4th of July food specials; nobody will come if they don’t know about what you’re offering. 

To make sure everyone knows about your 2021 4th of July specials, promote the big day early, preferably early to mid-June. This gives you enough time to prepare and customers time to make plans around visiting your restaurant.

Use marketing strategies such as social media (Facebook and Instagram), restaurant email marketing, your website, direct mail, and paid advertising. 

Don’t be afraid to use your staff as restaurant advocates for the big day, letting friends, family, and other customers know about your 4th of July specials.

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4th of July Restaurant Specials and Promotion Ideas for 2021

Not sure what 4th of July restaurant specials to offer? Here are 13 of the best Independence Day promotion ideas:

1. Take Things Outside

With many people expected to dine out on the 4th of July, restaurants need to be smart with their use of space. If you have access to outdoor areas such as a garden or patio, make the most of it. 

For example, offer a picnic basket for those wanting to sit outside on the grass. This will help boost sales and is still a safer option than indoor dining in many places.

Just be careful of overcrowding in your outdoor dining spaces, which can lead to breaking COVID-19 regulations, a deterioration of customer service, a tense atmosphere, and unhappy customers. 

2. Consider Live Entertainment

Live music is one of the best ways to build atmosphere and draw crowds. So if it’s safe to do so, consider hiring local entertainment such as a band, DJ, or comedian for a special Independence Day performance. 

You might even want to amp up the patriotism by asking your musicians to perform some crowd-pleasing American tunes, or getting them to dress up in the stars and stripes.

3. Update Your Menu

Offer some America-themed 4th of July food specials for the occasion. These specials can be based on color, like a red, white, and blue cake, or built around iconic American food.

While hot dogs are one of the most famous 4th of July foods – with Americans consuming 150 million each Independence Day weekend – consider some other popular American foods like delicious mac and cheese, hamburgers, or apple pie.

You can even change these classics depending on your concept. For example, if you’re a high-end establishment, add a high-end truffle mac and cheese. If you’re fast-casual, consider doing a pulled pork version.

4th of July restaurant special dish of hamburgers.

4. Create Holiday Meal Kits

Takeout and delivery have increased dramatically since the start of the pandemic. In fact, a 2021 survey found that 39% of consumers said they order takeout at least once a week, while 30% of respondents said they get food delivered with the same frequency.

With those numbers in mind, consider creating 4th of July specials specifically for the takeout and delivery crowd. One way to cater to these customers is by providing creative takeout options, such as 4th of July meal kits like grill-at-home BBQ kits, or fully loaded picnic baskets.

You could even partner with a business to offer a meal kit that includes merchandise like a handmade BBQ apron, or a local brewery to offer beer and food pairings.

5. Create a Signature Cocktail

Let your talented bartenders get creative by allowing them to create a signature drink that captures the holiday! 

For example, make a layered cocktail consisting of three colors: red, blue, and white.  Or, for something simpler, you could create a cocktail consisting of white rum, peach schnapps, club soda, and add blue curacao for the blue color.

You could even create cocktails to go if alcohol takeout and delivery are legal in your state. Just be sure to familiarize yourself with the alcohol delivery laws in your state before creating any festive to-go cocktails. 

6. Consider a Beer Special

Although signature cocktails are fun, beer is the big attraction on the 4th of July, with Americans spending over $1 billion on beer on this day alone.

So, consider a beer special like a happy hour promotion or partnering with a local brewery to sell a limited edition beer.

7. Offer a Discount

A fun and easy way to incorporate the 4th of July into your menu while drawing the crowds is to offer discounts, so consider getting creative with the 4th of July restaurant deals you offer.  

For example, offer some dishes for $7.04 (America’s birthday), or maybe a bucket of beer for $17.76 as homage to the year America was born. 

You can even offer deals for your most loyal customers. For instance, if you use a restaurant loyalty program like TouchBistro Loyalty, you can create personalized promotions based on past diner behavior. For example, you can pinpoint all the guests who ordered takeout from you last 4th of July and send them a 10% coupon code to encourage them to order again this year. Alternatively, you could send an email about your 4th of July food specials to anyone who hasn’t dined with you in the past 60 days as a nudge to get them to come in. 

8. Partner With a Local Business

Team up with another local business to provide a special 4th of July restaurant deals, or a unique offering. For example, you could offer:

  • A takeout meal and a 6-pack from a local brewery.
  • Food and wine pairings in your restaurant, or as part of a to-go meal kit (just be sure to include instructions and tasting notes).
  • A space in your establishment to sell produce from local farms and suppliers such as specific cuts of meat customers can take home to BBQ.
  • A meal kit that includes merchandise like a handmade apron.

And speaking of merchandise…

9. Sell 4th of July Merchandise

Americans tend to purchase a lot of patriotic merchandise on the 4th of July. So, why not create limited-edition merchandise you can sell?

If you already offer merchandise like hats or tote bags, create 4th of July versions. For example, see if you can get anything made in red, white, and blue.

Just remember to start selling early and offer early-bird specials, so people can wear your brand for the big day. For people who visit your restaurant on Independence Day itself, you may want to offer a slight discount to sell more.

Red white and blue frozen drink in a mason jar.

10. Host a Contest

Restaurant contests are a great way to boost engagement and sales, and the 4th of July is the perfect opportunity to host one.

For example, you could have a prize for the person who wears the most patriotic apparel on the day, or incorporates the most red, white, and blue into their outfit.

Another option is to have an America-themed trivia night where people can enter as a team. Each team pays an entry fee, with first, second, and third-place prizes on offer.

11. Include Kids

Many families will look for restaurants offering something for the kids. Consider including kid-friendly options to get these customers through the doors. 

For example:

  • Provide placemats the children can color in with red, white, and blue crayons.
  • Offer kid-friendly menu items like hot dogs, corn dogs, or tater tots.
  • Set up an outside play area if you have the space and facilities available.

12. Support a Charitable Cause

Use the holiday as an opportunity to support a local or national charity doing great work and donate a portion of your proceeds to the cause. Supporting a cause you care about is not only incredibly fulfilling but a way to boost your brand. 

After all, customers support businesses and restaurants that give back and are associated with some cause. A Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, for instance, found that 91% of Millennials would switch to a brand affiliated with a cause.

13. Embrace the View

Good weather means patio season is already in full swing. But imagine how much of a pull your patio could have if it’s the perfect viewing spot for one of the best firework shows in the country? 

Look into what firework shows are happening, and whether fireworks are visible from your restaurant or patio. If they are, promote your restaurant as the best view in town, and arrange seating so guests can enjoy the most of the view.

With many customers having gone more than a year without the opportunity to visit their favorite bars and restaurants, the 4th of July 2021 is sure to see big crowds. And with so many people out and about, the right 4th of July restaurant specials are a must to draw in the crowds, set you apart from the competition, and keep your restaurant packed all weekend long.

Photo of Katie McCann
by Katie McCann

Katie is a former Content Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro where she writes about food and restaurant experiences. She doesn’t shy away from the finer things in life, but no matter how much success she continues to acquire, she stays true to her roots and still considers imitation crab as gourmet. If she isn’t writing, you can find her on a patio with friends and a pitcher of white wine sangria.

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