What Hours Should You Serve Thanksgiving Dinner?
Planning Thanksgiving Dinner in your restaurant can be frustrating and stressful. You have to contend with staffing needs, purchasing the right foods, planning the menu, marketing, and ensuring that your customers will be happy. One of the things that can make a difference in your success is when you decide to serve Thanksgiving dinner. Unless you plan to be open the entire day, you will have to determine which opening hours will work best to attract the largest amount of customers. Choosing the wrong times can mean losing business and choosing the right ones can guarantee that you see profits from the day.
So how do you make this important decision?
Thanksgiving is a busy day for everyone
Thanksgiving is a busy day for people. There is a lot going on. Family is getting together, big sports games are on TV, and many people are beginning their Christmas shopping. Therefore it should not seem odd to consider sports and shopping when setting your hours. You do not want to interfere with the big games unless you plan on broadcasting them. On the other hand, you don't want to be open too late as people like to spend time over their Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, as it's usually the culmination of any of the days activities. So, keep in mind not to interfere with sporting events and shopping when planning your hours of operation.
Check out the local competition
It is important to look around at your competition. Do they plan on serving Thanksgiving Dinner? If so, when do they plan to be open? This is going to have a direct impact on your success. If you open an hour after they close then you are not going to appeal to those who have already eaten. If you open earlier than everyone else, customers may feel that they don't want to sit down to a dinner too early in the day. Instead you want to find out the hours of the competition and see if it coincides with the hours you plan on being open. Unless you have established yourself as a place to be for Thanksgiving Dinner, or you can rely on a guaranteed customer base, then you will need to change your hours to closely match the hours of your local competition. You can add or subtract to their planned hours, but your opening hours should be similar to theirs. This is the best way for you to attract your own customer base and work towards establishing yourself as a Thanksgiving Dinner destination. Once you have a name and reputation, then you can set your own unique hours if need be.
Most people like to eat their meal at 4 pm
Studies have shown that the majority of diners like to eat their Thanksgiving dinner at 4 pm. This allows them to do some shopping, watch some sports, and then get together with family, while still giving them plenty of time to rest, travel home and do other activities. While some may prefer dining earlier, and some later, working around the 4 pm time slot should be a fairly safe time for Thanksgiving dinner. So, for example, if you open at 3 pm, this will give diners plenty of time to sit down, order some drinks, order their meals and relax while waiting for their Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings.
In summary, it's important to pay attention to holiday activities that can detract from your business and work your hours around them. If you plan to have TVs in your establishment, then you can be open during the big game and use that as part of your marketing. Otherwise you will want to steer clear of competing with traditional Thanksgiving Day activities, while still catering to the crowds who prefer eating their dinner earlier than on a regular day.