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 2023 may be the busiest one yet, with Americans spending $7.7 billion on 4th of July food last year alone.
But as lucrative as this day can be, keep in mind that restaurants still need to differentiate themselves to stay competitive. For example, restaurants can offer unique menu items and food promotions, or even provide live entertainment to stand out.
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.
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.
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 2023:
1. A mobile POS that you can take tableside to capture customers’ 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 modifier prompts.
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.
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.
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 to your restaurant if they don’t know about what you’re offering.
To make sure everyone knows about your 2023 4th of July specials, promote the big day early, preferably early to mid-June. This gives you enough time to prepare and gives customers time to make plans around visiting your restaurant.
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 2023
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. This will attract new customers who prefer to eat while enjoying fresh air and listening to the soothing sounds of nature.
When preparing your patio, ensure that your space has a balance of sun and shade to appeal to all of your guests’ preferences. You’ll also need to assign staff to regularly clean patio furniture and check that burnt-out lightbulbs are replaced.
Just be careful of overcrowding in your outdoor dining spaces, which can lead to 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 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 – Americans spent more than $8.3 billion on hot dogs and sausages in 2022 – 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.
4. Encourage Staff to Dress Up
Encourage your staff to take a break from wearing their usual uniforms and ask them to wear patriotic outfits. For example, you could suggest they wear clothing with the American flag colors of red, white, and blue.
While all your staff are dressed festively, consider taking a team photo that you can share on your media channels. You could then use this photo to promote your restaurant’s holiday spirit and encourage more guests to celebrate Independence Day with you.
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 $1.4 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 easily set up spend and item-based rewards that revolve around popular Fourth of July dishes. Plus, if you also have the TouchBistro Marketing integration, you can create dedicated email promotions for the holiday.
For example, with TouchBistro Marketing you could pinpoint all the guests who ordered takeout from your restaurant 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
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.
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.
- 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 also a way to boost your brand.
After all, customers support businesses and restaurants that give back and are associated with some cause. For instance, one study found that 73% of Gen Z will only buy from brands they believe in, based on value alignment.
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 so many Americans celebrating Independence Day last year, 2023’s 4th of July 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.