March 18, 2019 06:45 PM
The first day of spring is coming up on March 20, so start planning a springtime celebration to kick off the season. (Photo: parasolia/Shutterstock)
by Kylie Lobell
Springtime is not only when plants, flowers and the earth come alive. It is also when people start enjoying the sunshine, spending more time outdoors and eating out more often.
The first day of spring (March 20) is a perfect opportunity to celebrate with your customers, by hosting an event, offering new and spring-themed food and beverages and holding fun activities for diners of all ages.
Here’s how you can put on a spring opening celebration your customers will remember all season long.
Springtime is about rebirth, warmth, sunshine and blossoms, so create a few signature cocktails that reflect these themes, said Michael Maxwell, partner at Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting.
“Restaurants and bars should develop specialty cocktail menus that focus on the use of herbs, fresh berries and floral garnishes that evoke all of these wonderful springtime feels.”
To liven up your drink menu, Maxwell suggested give the beverages fun names like “Budding Romance,” “Blackberry Winter” or “Equinoxious.” With each ticket, you could include a free bag of seeds (with your restaurant’s branding, of course), and ask diners to post pictures on social media.
“Host a competition or giveaway on Instagram or Facebook, and encourage guests to post pictures of their seeds growing into something beautiful, with your restaurant’s name as a hashtag,” he said.
Give your drinks menu new life this spring with specialty cocktails using fresh herbs, berries and floral garnishes. (Photo: Daxiao Productions/Shutterstock)
If the forecast doesn’t call for sunny weather, you don’t need to have your big spring event on March 20. Instead, wait for a day when it’s not going to be raining or overcast.
Deba Wegner, restaurant consultant and owner of Recipe for Success Inc., said the best time to hold your event is on a Friday, Saturday or after working hours.
“Depending where your outdoor seating is, adjacent to the restaurant or adjacent to the bar, this can be a family-friendly event or something for the over-21 crowd,” she said.
If you want to appeal to more people, especially families, create fun activities they can participate in while at your restaurant.
According to Maxwell, there is a long-standing, springtime tradition of playing a game where you try to balance an egg, either on your end or on its end, on the first day of spring.
“Supposedly, this emerged because the sun shines directly over the equator on this day and affects the earth’s gravitational pull,” he explained. “Give each table an egg to play with and challenge them to make it stand on its end. While they are playing the game, give the table a free deviled-egg appetizer.”
Maxwell also suggested an enjoyable puddle-splashing session for kids: “Throw a cocktail party for the parents on the patio, cover the kids in garbage-bag ‘smocks’ and create some puddles around the patio for them to splash in.”
Use your springtime celebration as an opportunity to test out new dishes for your menu. (Photo: Rawpixel/Shutterstock)
Wegner said she advises her clients to liven up events with music and free treats.
“Some clients have musical groups that they work with and that fit their style of food, and they hire a band to play during the patio event,” she said. “We may order a special cake to share with guests that come to the event, while supplies last.”
Take the opportunity presented by your spring gala to introduce new menu items.
One idea is to ask your food and beverage suppliers to join the party and demo a new product or recipe, or see if they want to donate a product that you could feature, said Wegner.
Also, “put together offerings of food and beverage tastes that are on your new spring menu or that you are thinking about trying out for the warm-weather seasons,” she said Wegner. “You can even ask your guests to get involved by voting for what they like best, and [which items] they would like to see on the menu.”