Bringing Thanksgiving Menu Nostalgia to Your Operation

November 16, 2017 by Larry Struckman
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Unlike other holidays throughout the year, Thanksgiving is all about the food. Each person has their own idea of Thanksgiving menu staples that must be included on their plate every year. From stuffing to cranberry sauce, without certain dishes it would simply not "feel" like Thanksgiving! Even if your restaurant is closed for the holiday, you can capture that dish-centric Thanksgiving nostalgia by making a couple of changes to your restaurant for the month of November.

Craft New Drinks and Dishes for a Thanksgiving Menu

Nostalgia around the holiday all comes down to what mom or grandma put on the table for dinner. With this in mind, consider crafting a few traditional Thanksgiving influenced menu items that people will be excited to try. It doesn't have to be as simple and straight-forward as turkey and stuffing, either. Consider some of the savory flavors that seem to only belong to Thanksgiving.

  • Cranberry. Love it or hate it, cranberry sauce is a traditional staple on the menu. Get creative with ways you can inject cranberry flavor into your menu. Try a new cocktail with that warm cranberry flavoring or see how you can add a cranberry garnish onto a regular dish to accentuate the flavor.
  • Gravy. While you don't need to smother everything in gravy (but really, who would not enjoy that on their dish), think about the flavors that are contained in gravy and how they interacts with the favorites of mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing. See if you can capture that flavor with an offbeat holiday dish.
  • Pumpkin. What would Thanksgiving be without some pumpkin pie? With pumpkin being such a hot flavor trend, there are a million different ways you can add that pumpkin nostalgia and excitement to your holiday menu.

While you can absolutely host the full-on, traditional Thanksgiving dishes, by incorporating the standard holiday flavors in new and exciting ways you will draw more people in the door to see if they get that same nostalgia with a spin on the classic.

Run Specials on Holiday Favorites

Many times the singular dinner on Thanksgiving is not enough for people to truly feel the spirit of giving and thanks for the season. Not only can you draw more people into your restaurant by simply advertising a Thanksgiving menu, but you can inject that dish nostalgia to even more people by running specials on the holiday favorites.

When you create your specialties menu, decide how you want to get people to order more of them. First, advertising that they are only available for a limited time should draw people in the door. Check stuffers and table tents work great for this! Then watch how you can get a family to order off the Thanksgiving menu with a buy two or four dishes for at a special "low cost" price. Feature any new holiday cocktails during happy hour specials and perhaps provide day long happy hour pricing on your Thanksgiving drinks. These special deals will draw more people into your restaurant who did not realize what a festive mood they were in!

Update Design for a Homey Harvest Feel

The decor and design of your restaurant is likely pretty standard throughout the year, but to provide that Thanksgiving holiday spirit, consider adding some harvest accents. Suspend fall leaves from the ceiling above tables. Add a pumpkin or gourd as table centerpieces. Provide little accents of traditional Thanksgiving imagery, such as a tall hat or turkey tail feathers, on the host podium or at the bar. Creating this Thanksgiving imagery welcomes people to get in the holiday spirit, making them more likely to try out your Thanksgiving menu and specials.

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Larry Struckman

Passionate about setting up systems and procedures that assure success, training, consulting, growing sales, strategic planning, creating "raving fan" customer service and just about anything related to food service. 25+ years in food and sales as well as growing hundreds of concepts with different operators (I have seen them all). I enjoy cooking, computer software, Taekwondo and spending time with my family. We started ShiftNote in 2007 to help organizations like yours create a better platform for shift-to-shift communication across their organization. Our purpose is to serve you with the best online digital logbook and employee scheduling software on the market so you can spend more time focusing on growing your business.