Family-Friendly Cinco de Mayo Ideas for Your RestaurantWith the right food, virgin drinks and festive decor, you can create a fun celebration without the tequila.
May 5th marks Cinco de Mayo, a day that celebrates Mexico’s defeat of the French army. While Mexicans tend to celebrate by commemorating the battle, Americans often use the holiday as an excuse to celebrate the food and — in particular — the drink of Mexico.
So how can your non-Mexican, dry restaurant lure families and teetotalers on this holiday? Consider these ideas from three restaurant consultants.
Feature a Mexican special
If you own an Italian or French restaurant, you may have trouble selling your customers on Mexican food. But if you serve all-American food or have a flexible menu, offer additional tasty options for the holiday.
“There is no reason why restaurants couldn’t feature something special for Cinco de Mayo,” said Jim Peyton, recipe developer and recipe and menu consultant at Lo Mexicano. “They have a lot of patrons that would be interested in something like this.”
Peyton suggested a Puebla-style mole, since Cinco de Mayo is all about the Battle of Puebla, where Mexico defeated the French army in 1862. Make sure you serve avocados and guacamole as well, since some 175 million avocados are eaten on this day. For more of Peyton’s Mexican recipes, visit his blog.
Host a trivia game
Carrie Welch, owner of restaurant PR firm Little Green Pickle, suggested hosting a trivia night on Cinco de Mayo to encourage families to learn about the holiday and have some fun.
“Host a trivia night with questions related to holiday, which is actually a celebration of Mexico’s military victory over Napoleon III, and [ask] other questions about Mexico’s history and culture.”
Hang a piñata and other decor
Decorations will get your guests and wait staff into the holiday spirit. Deba Wegner, a restaurant consultant and owner of marketing company Recipe for Success, Inc. decorated one restaurant’s buffets with crafts from the owner’s collection of items from artisans in his hometown in Mexico. No such assets to tap? “We also do piñatas and other items that are readily available at party stores here in the U.S. or at Mexican grocery stores.”
If you want to get creative and make your own Cinco de Mayo decorations, try the Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas board on Pinterest. There you’ll find out how to make a chili pepper pom out of tissue paper and wire, how to make fiesta fringe cake toppers and more.
Offer virgin drinks
Virgin versions of holiday favorites can help adults and kids indulge in the spirit of the holiday.
For kids, she recommended aguas frescas. These drinks include fresh fruit, lime juice, sugar and water. “Agua fresca tastes as refreshing as it sounds and is fairly easy to prepare — just blend fruit with sugar and water,” she said. “Include colorful, fun straws and it’s a party.”
This Cinco de Mayo, show your guests how easy it is to have a great time without alcohol. By offering south-of-the border specials, special drinks, festive décor and more, you can lure adults (and their kids) who want to skip the bar scene.