The last stretch of seasonal changes is approaching, and restaurant owners are bearing in mind how to maximize their Q4 earnings to finish the year off strong. Though the major winter holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day can be hectic for all businesses, is it profitable enough to keep your restaurant open?

Should you be closed? When should you open late or open early? 

There's no single answer to these questions; it depends on your restaurant, its location, and the prices of food. However, some holidays may not be worth staying open for in terms of the number of customers and business they bring in. So, let's look at the most popular winter holidays and see which ones might be worth staying open for.

How to Prepare For The 2022 Winter Holidays At Your Restaurant 

Halloween

Halloween is a great opportunity for restaurants to show off their creative side with spooky decorations and themed menu items. Plus, many people are out and about Halloween weekend, making it a prime opportunity for bars specifically to catch some extra business. 

Halloween night falls on a Monday this year, which can often be one of the slower nights for restaurants as it falls into the school and work week. Despite that, restaurant delivery services have reported that Halloween is one of the most popular holidays for food ordering.  

For customers that want to avoid long lines and crowded streets, consider targeting your demographic with restaurant delivery promotions. Offer late-night deals so people can order food for dinner without having trouble navigating trick-or-treating traffic. Don’t forget to treat your delivery staff!

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurants and bars, thanks to the informal holiday known as "Drinksgiving." The night got its nickname from the uptick in bar patronage as people join together to indulge in their drink of choice before celebrating Thanksgiving. 

Drinksgiving has become a cultural phenomenon - practically everyone has the following day off work; it's the perfect time for locals to hit their favorite bar.

Also, many restaurants use this day to offer family-style takeout meals, accepting preorders up to a month in advance. For those, this can be the busiest day of the year.  

Staying open on the day before Thanksgiving can be a great way to boost your bottom line, but it's important to make sure you're prepared for the increased business. Make sure you have enough front-of-house staff on hand to handle the crowds and that your restaurant is fully stocked with all the ingredients you'll need.

Thanksgiving Day

While Thanksgiving Day isn't usually a busy day for restaurants, many people use the holiday as an opportunity to eat out with family and friends. This goes back to continuously evaluating whether it's worth staying open based on your location and concept.  

Do you have a full-service restaurant in a highly trafficked area? Do your tables accommodate large groups? 

If not, traffic is likely to be light. You can opt to close and give your whole staff a gift they'll definitely appreciate: a day off. 

Black Friday is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, with long-distance travel increasing by an average of 54% during the 6-day holiday. More than 109 million people traveled for Thanksgiving weekend last year. Essentially, you may not want to open on Thanksgiving Day, but you can make up ground through the weekend.

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

December can be one of the most stressful times for restaurants as it's often busy getting holiday menus created and orders out – all while trying to manage a short-staffed schedule. 

Historically, Christmas Eve and day restaurants see some of the slowest days of the year. On average, less than 20% of restaurants are open this holiday.

If you're hesitant about opening up on Christmas Day this year, one option is to offer preorder dinner staples for takeout like Cracker Barrel served last year. The result was some revenue growth and could be a gain in lieu of your restaurant opening.

One very possible perk of being open on Christmas Day is seeing larger check sizes. People are going out with families, they want a nice lunch or dinner and holiday drink. If a restaurant stays open, it's pretty usual to have prix fixe menus and pricing, driving up order values on this day.

New Year's Eve & New Year's Day

New Year's Eve is all about the countdown. It's the night of celebration and anticipation of the New Year! It would help if you considered creating special events on New Year's Eve that involve food and drinks, drawing people into your restaurant during this crucial time of year. 

For example: An open bar serving sparkling wine or Champagne at midnight with a countdown party where everyone can toast together.

Restaurants should know that New Year's Eve and Day 2022 fall on the weekend. 

Maybe instead of an NYE party, you opt to offer Sunday brunch specials instead. If your restaurant has several TVs, opening on New Year's Day, 2023, is a no-brainer since there is a full Sunday of NFL games.

January 1st is also recognized as National Hangover Day, which can be tied into some daily food and drink specials.

Conclusion

In addition to the aforementioned holidays, there are also winter holidays such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa that may attract specific customer demographics. It can be worth researching in your area to see if these holidays bring in significant business for your restaurant.

While the holidays are a busy time for everyone, they can be incredibly stressful if you're running a restaurant. The key is planning ahead and ensuring your business doesn't suffer. 

If you have a special menu that is popular on a particular holiday, staying open could be a great way to boost your bottom line. However, if you're not prepared for the increased business that comes with holidays like Thanksgiving, it might be best to close up shop. 

Will your restaurant be open?