Memorial Day begins the summer’s outdoor fun, travel and vacations from school, and restaurant owners can promote their businesses despite the fact that people spend more time outdoors. One of the best ways to increase business at your restaurant for Memorial Day is to offer an incentive for active and former military and their families.

Memorial Day is a great time to offer picnic meals and box lunches, host a cookout where people don’t have to cook their own food and promote barbecued foods and summery salads. Many cities hold festivals over the Memorial Day weekend with events for kids, art shows, river races, bands, etc.

You can tap into the celebrations and summer vibe by hosting your own Memorial Day promotion to remind your regular customers that you’re around during the summer. You can also use social media marketing and local search marketing to target traveling families who appreciate your particular style of cuisine. Eight ways to capitalize on Memorial Day and summer include the following promotions.

  1. Make Your Menu Summer Friendly
    Strawberries come into season early, and you can offer delicious strawberry salads, desserts and cocktails as your first menu adjustments for summer. You can also add items to the menu that are picnic-friendly like deli salads, pickles, fried chicken, barbecued ribs, grilled vegetables and steaks. Restaurant chefs can showcase their creative skills by creating unique barbecue dishes, sauces and even ‘cue for vegetarians.
  2. Decorate for the Season
    Memorial Day is perfect for changing your restaurant’s décor and menu for the season. You can begin to remind people of patriotism by incorporating flags and red, white and blue colors in your designs. Create an inviting outdoor space at your restaurant by adding a bench for weary tourists to rest. You can decorate your storefront with fresh flowers, live plants or eco-friendly trees to bring a bit of nature to an urban environment or to soften harsh scenery with colors, blooms ,and beautiful shapes.
  3. Host an Outdoor Barbecue
    People love getting outdoors when the weather breaks, but this often means slower business for restaurants throughout the world. However, if you don’t go against the grain, you can use outdoor activities to bolster your business. Sell box and picnic lunches beginning on Memorial Day weekend. Other outdoor marketing ideas include:


    • Holding a barbecue competition based on wet sauces versus dry rubs
    • Hosting a barbecue event for families
    • Providing outdoor, sidewalk or patio seating
    • Taking part in festivals by running a booth or buying a company food truck
    • Hosting outdoor events for families like face-painting for kids, story time, puppet shows or music performances
  4. Whisper Campaigns
    Start a whisper campaign to generate social media publicity over the Memorial Day weekend. You can offer any kind of incentive—such as buy one, get one free—but the catch is that your customers don’t use coupons but whisper a phrase to their server or cashier, such as “remember those that served,” “freedom” or “summer fun.”
  5. Kids’ Attractions for the Holiday
    You can attract families by hosting Memorial Day events for kids. Many families visit cemeteries on the holiday, but most parents want to lighten things up for children. You could offer incentives for kids that include games, coloring contests, kids’ art show, clown performances, etc.
  6. Free Meals for Veterans
    You can offer free meals, drinks, entrées or desserts to veterans for Memorial Day or attract them with a special service at the restaurant like a free photo session, memorial charm, or VIP meal where each veteran is honored and remembered on Memorial Day. Another way to honor vets on Memorial Day is by listing the local veterans who were killed while serving their country.
  7. Cross-Promote Your City
    Memorial Day is an ideal time to run cooperative promotions with local museums, art galleries, hotels, florists, photographers and theme parks. You can cross-promote your businesses to tourists or create summer packages for weddings and celebrations by offering discounts on admission prices, recommended tours of the city and other promotional ideas.
  8. Hold a Memorial Day Celebrity Cook-Off
    You can get a lot a publicity by hosting a celebrity cook-off during the Memorial Day weekend. If you choose media celebrities like TV personalities, journalists or radio announcers, you’ll get built-in promotional benefits. You might be able to generate a viral campaign where media personalities “talk trash” and get people engaged. And, of course, people will want to sample their favorite celeb’s cooking skills.


    No matter where you live, Memorial Day gets things started for summer celebrations, outdoor fun, picnics, barbecues and festivals. You can use your website, traditional signs, in-house advertising, personalized emails, newsletters and social media marketing to promote your event and generate word-of-mouth campaigns. If you’re partnering with other companies, their advertising will benefit your restaurant for a win-win marketing strategy.