5 Tips for Mastering Mother’s Day BrunchHandle the rush with grace and planning — just like Mom would.
In the restaurant business, Mother’s Day is one of the biggest days of the year. The National Restaurant Association estimates that more than a third of Americans plan to eat out on Mother’s Day, and 24 percent of them plan to sit down to brunch.
Stuart Fierman, director of Atlanta’s Fifth Group Restaurants, is a pro at making sure his restaurant’s Mother’s Day brunches are perfect. Fifth Group owns some of top Atlanta restaurant brands, including South City Kitchen, Alma Cocina and Ecco.
Prepare for the rush and create a stress-free brunch outing for moms and their families with these tips from Fierman.
Keep your menu small
Keep up with the crowds and turn tables quickly by limiting your menu options, Fierman advised. “When you narrow some of the selection, you are better able to execute an order and make sure you don’t run out of product.”
Feature special dishes
Consumers go out on Mother’s Day to entertain someone who deserves to feel special, he said. Instead of just paring back to a prix fixe menu of your most popular items, add in a mix of special dishes for the occasion to remind your guests of honor that this is their special day.
“We will always have the signature items from our restaurants, but we try to feature other things that feel special,” Fierman said. For instance, a restaurant that regularly serves butcher-cut steaks might want to offer filet mignon on that day because consumers are in a celebratory mood and more likely to splurge.
“Brunch is the meal with the most substitutions,” said Fierman. On busy days like Mother’s Day, you’ll need to keep them to a minimum.
Swapping a couple ingredients may seem harmless, but especially on high volume days, it can cause you to run out of an ingredient planned for other, more popular dishes and slow kitchen production.
“If you have a lot of requests like that, it can snowball and almost freeze up an operation, causing a dramatic slowdown in ticket times and guest service. So now, because you’re operating more slowly, you’re not able to seat your guests at their reservation times. It seems like a simple and a small thing, but that one little detail can often be the difference between success and failure on a very busy brunch.”
Prep for a family affair
Mother’s Day brunch is an event for the whole family, so don’t forget to prepare your restaurant for children — that means kid-friendly menu options and plenty of high chairs.
“Seventeen years ago on Mother’s Day, I ran out of chairs and high chairs.” said Fierman. “Oh, that was an awful day.”
For children’s menus, he said, “we follow the same prix fixe, two or three course meal format, but in a kid’s version.” Make sure you appeal to picky eaters by including a few kid’s menu standards from your regular menu, such as grilled cheese or chicken fingers — because a cranky child can quickly ruin Mom’s special day.
Fierman said restaurants that usually seat 200 to 300 for brunch on an average Sunday can get five times that traffic on Mother’s Day. To manage the crowd, take reservations, even if you don’t normally, and plan to max out reservations to 100 percent. “It’s typically a day that if you don’t have a reservation, you aren’t going to show up. So we generally book the entire restaurant.”
But in case walk-ins do come along, have a plan. If your restaurant bar serves food, use that area on a first-come, first-served basis to help manage overflow, Fierman suggested.
You can also have a wait list, he said. “There will always be people who are either late, don’t show for their reservation or cancel, so we’re usually able to work in a fair amount of walk-in guests throughout the day in that manner.”
Chances are, Mom manages the household’s chaos with efficiency and aplomb (at least on her good days). Do the same for your restaurant’s Mother’s Day brunch and help families give Mom the day she deserves.