Mother’s Day is traditionally one of the highest-volume days of the year for restaurants specializing in upscale brunch, but foodservice brands across all segments see the holiday as a sizeable opportunity to boost traffic and are deploying promotions beyond brunch to attract mothers and families.
New research from online-reservation specialist OpenTable Inc. suggests that while brunch is still the most popular meal on Mother’s Day, marketing opportunities for restaurants exist beyond the mid-morning meal. Although 58 percent of people surveyed said brunch was part of their plans, 39 percent said the family planned to take Mom out to a special dinner — and roughly one-quarter of them said they may eat out more than once on Mother’s Day.
The survey results indicated another good sign for restaurants of all types: Twenty percent of respondents said they plan on spending more money this year for Mother’s Day. Three quarters of them said they plan to spend about the same amount as last year.
Among the restaurants taking advantage of Mother's Day marketing opportunities beyond brunch is First Watch, a Bradenton, Fla.-based chain of 90 breakfast-and-lunch restaurants. For the sixth consecutive year, the chain will offer mothers a complimentary box of Russell Stover chocolates for dining in on Mother’s Day. Similarly, Nashville, Tenn.-based Shoney’s is giving away its Hot Fudge Cake to all mothers with the purchase of an entrée at its more than 200 restaurants in 17 states.
Fellow family-dining chain Denny’s is incorporating an interactive element for its offer of a free Skillet Cookie a la Mode. Guests can send their mother’s a free Mother’s Day e-card from the Denny’s website in exchange for a coupon for the dessert, redeemable on Mother’s Day. Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny’s operates or franchises 1,685 restaurants.
Fazoli’s, the chain of more than 200 fast-casual Italian restaurants, also ran a digital promotion for Mother’s Day. The Lexington, Ky.-based brand was scheduled to name its “Mother of the Year” Friday, after several weeks of soliciting nominations on its Facebook page. The winner would receive free family meals at Fazoli’s for one year.
“Our moms take care of us 365 days a year, year after year,” chief marketing officer Cathy Hull said in a statement. “That’s why we wanted to continue the tradition of honoring Mom with a prize that will allow her to sit down and enjoy a quality meal with her family each month for a year.”
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Red Mango, the 170-unit frozen-yogurt chain based in Dallas, is running a “Share the Love” promotion from Mother’s Day through graduation season and Father’s Day, in which the purchase of every $25 gift card earns the buyer a $5 gift card. Those purchases also enter people into a sweepstake for free frozen yogurt for a year.
“Our brand motto is ‘Treat yourself well,’ and we believe treating our moms on their special day to all-natural frozen yogurt is a memorable way to show them we care,” founder and chief concept officer Dan Kim said in a statement. “Buying them a $25 Red Mango gift card will certainly make them feel loved, but the free $5 Share the Love Card you’ll get with that purchase will make you smile as well.”
Another frozen-yogurt chain, Yogurt Mountain, is offering mothers the first 10 ounces of frozen yogurt purchased on Mother’s Day for free. The Birmingham, Ala.-based brand has 42 stores in 15 states.
Casual-dining brands also are celebrating mothers this Sunday with giveaways and gift card promotions.
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Atlanta-based Hooters, for example, is offering a complimentary order of 10 boneless wings to all mothers dining in its more than 400 restaurants. Maryville, Tenn.-based Ruby Tuesday, meanwhile, is giving away a free “Simply Fresh” cookbook to mothers in its more than 800 restaurants.
Upscale-casual steakhouses Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar are not only rolling out special brunch menus for Mom, they're also offering $25 gift cards to encourage a repeat visit after her special day.
Orlando, Fla.-based Ruth’s Chris is promoting its Maine lobster and specialty cocktails for the occasion, and in addition to a $25 gift card, the brand also will hand out a long-stem rose to each mother dining in at its 150 restaurants on Sunday.
Fleming’s special $34.95 prix-fixe brunch menu includes the Blood Orange Fizz cocktail, as well as Filet Mignon Benedict and New Orleans Style French Toast. The $25 dining card is redeemable from May 14 through June 15. Newport Beach, Calif.-based Fleming’s has 64 locations nationwide.