Mother’s Day Presents Operational Challenges and High Expectations for Restaurants


Mother’s Day has gained a notorious reputation as one of the most grueling days for the American restaurant industry. With high expectations, large groups, fussy eaters, and splitting the check dramas, this holiday presents a massive operational challenge to restaurants. Servers and restaurant staff dread this day, often considering it a chaotic and demanding experience.

Restaurants face numerous difficulties on Mother’s Day. The influx of big groups arriving in waves can disrupt the kitchen’s workflow, especially when a few late arrivals create chaos. Moreover, every family seems to have a difficult relative or in-law who adds to the challenges of the day. The anticipation alone can cause anxiety for restaurant workers, knowing they will face a jam-packed establishment and numerous last-minute reservation requests.

This year, restaurants anticipate even higher expectations from guests due to rising food prices and inflation. In a post-pandemic world, customers crave luxury and excess, expecting lavish meals and indulgent experiences. Customers may become aggravated if their meals do not meet their perceived sense of luxury, further adding to the pressure on restaurants.

According to the National Retail Federation, Mother’s Day spending is forecasted to reach $35.7 billion this year, with a record $5.6 billion spent on meals or outings. It is the second-busiest day in the restaurant business, surpassed only by Valentine’s Day. Owners and chefs acknowledge the operational challenge posed by Mother’s Day, as it is the busiest day of the year, accompanied by the highest guest expectations.

Despite the challenges, many restaurants are excited about the opportunity to celebrate a holiday that has not been overshadowed by the pandemic, marking the first major celebration since 2019. Owners anticipate guests spending approximately 40% more than usual, with additional add-ons such as bottomless mimosas. While rising prices and inflation affect pricing decisions, restaurants must strike a delicate balance to avoid being obnoxiously expensive while still turning a profit.

Chain restaurants are adapting their strategies to maximize profits and seating capacity. Ruth’s Chris Steak House, for example, is opening several locations for breakfast or brunch on Mother’s Day, offering specialty items like wild blueberry pancakes. Additionally, some Red Lobster locations are providing Moms with coupons for future discounts, including their popular Ultimate Endless Shrimp Feast.

Considering the stressful nature of Mother’s Day for restaurant workers, the National Restaurant Association recommends that owners ensure servers are well-fed, hydrated, and even consider providing a “combat-duty” bonus, especially for the mothers on staff working the shift. However, some suggest a simpler solution: preparing breakfast for Mom at home.

In conclusion, Mother’s Day presents significant operational challenges and high expectations for the restaurant industry. With large groups, increased demands, and rising prices, restaurants must navigate a hectic and demanding day while striving to meet customer expectations. Despite the difficulties, restaurants are eager to create memorable experiences for families and generate revenue on this special occasion.