We all know dads love to eat, and there's no better way to celebrate dad on Father's Day than to bring him to a restaurant for a fantastic meal. As a restaurant owner, you already know that Father's Day is probably one of the busier holidays of the year, alongside Mother's Day and Restaurant Week. But with every restaurant in your city promoting itself on Father's Day, it can be difficult to get your restaurant noticed by families itching for a quality meal and time together.

To help get noticed by more potential guests on Father's Day, we've written up some great promotion ideas that any restaurant can use. You just need the right perspective, some great dad jokes, and the right point-of-sale system to make your life easier.

1. Entice dads with free dessert

We all know dads love saving big on a hearty meal at a restaurant since they're most likely picking up the entire check. To help celebrate Father's Day, you can include some potential freebies to lessen the impact of a large family meal for dads everywhere. Don't just offer a bowl of candy by the cash register. Offer discounted items, complimentary drinks like an Americano coffee, or even a free dessert to make the special occasion sweeter. It'll go well with the kids who want something sweet on this special day.

Daughter feeding father on Father's Day at restaurant brunch time.
Make dads everywhere feel like indulging in a free sweet treat.

2. Draft up a special Father's Day dinner menu

Steak. Grilled chicken. Mashed Potatoes. Lobster. Beer. Dad meals are classic and hearty dishes that never stray too far into the realm of the avant-garde. You can use the simplicity of these meals to your advantage on Father's Day. Instead of having typical holiday dishes based on the seasonality of ingredients, craft special meal options for a Father's Day menu that'll turn some bearded heads.

Of course, the best Father's Day menu doesn't rely on the list of cliche dad meals, so think outside the box with your Father's Day dinner ideas. Guests can buy a pizza or chicken alfredo any time of the year, so what can your restaurant create that'll make every dad want to come back every year? Offer spicy surf and turf tacos that cater to every dad's sense of adventure, a Father's Day twist on the classic nigiri sushi, or just serve a masterful garlic steak that'll have every dad asking tips on the grill back home.

3. Hold a photo contest on Instagram

Besides gifts and a special meal, guests love to take photos of their Father's Day activities to commemorate the occasion years down the line. So when a family steps into your restaurant for a memorable dinner to celebrate Dad, you can encourage them to take a photo and share it on social media pages like Facebook or Instagram.

Of course, simply asking a guest to tag you on social media might not be enticing enough to qualify as an actual promotion. That's why we recommend you host a Father's Day photo contest, where a family would need to use a custom hashtag or tag your restaurant in the image to be viable to win. When guests tag your social media page, their followers will see your restaurant's name and brand and associate it with the best Father's Day experience possible.

Instagram screenshot of people dining at Bungalow Kitchen for Super bowl game day and fathers day
The Bungalow Kitchen Tiburon loves to promote specials for different occasions on their official Instagram.

The silliest family photo could win free merch or a discount on their next visit. For some extra inspiration, you can even include silly props like a large hat or party glasses so dads can have another reason to potentially embarrass their kids.

4. Offer extra promotions on store merch

Selling merch at a restaurant can sometimes be tricky since quality food and service are typically the highest priorities. However, creating a Father's Day discount on different merch items can help attract more dads eager for a little souvenir to take home. When the food's phenomenal and the day feels memorable, a beer glass or coffee mug can quickly become an impromptu gift for dads on their special day.

And if you're willing to spend the money, you can even design some merch specifically catered to Father's Day. Everyone loves a mug that says #1 Dad, so why not sell a mug, shirt, socks, or anything else that mentions fatherhood and your restaurant name? That's essentially free advertising for next year's Father's Day.

5. Tempt dads with loyalty discounts from return visits

Let's say a family steps into your restaurant for Father's Day and is eager to try the food for the first time. If the service is good and the food is memorable, there might be the temptation to come back for the next Father's Day. But what about the rest of the year?

When you have a well-structured loyalty rewards program, you give Dad an extra incentive to check back into your restaurant for another bite. You don't even need to elaborate on your loyalty rewards. Simply offer a discount after five visits, complimentary fries after ten visits, and so on.

6. Piggyback off Mother's Day for bonus deals

Father and mother laughing with daughter for Father's Day lunch dinner or brunch at a local restaurant.
Mom and Dad are a dynamic duo who deserve to be celebrated.

Everyone loves to see a Father's Day promotion, but it can sometimes feel like a rehash of ideas restaurants used for Mother's Day. To keep that Mother's Day momentum going strong, you can include some extra promotional material that celebrates both mom and dad. For the next upcoming Mother's Day and Father's Day season, try building a double deal special that guests can redeem if they have dinner on both days. This extended celebration might take some extra coordination with your POS system, but it can be a great way to celebrate Dad while also acknowledging Mom.

7. Send an email promotion with more hidden discounts

There's nothing like earning a reward for being more diligent than the other guy dining next to you. So when you include secret little discounts in your promotional emails, you give Dad another reason to feel like he's being rewarded for his dedication to reading the fine print.

The discounts themselves don't need to be too cryptic. Simply write, "Show this to your server for a special meal discount." If guests need to be added to your email list, tell them to sign up to receive other special discounts on family holidays like Father's Day. You don't even need to include promotions in the email itself. Write about some of your restaurant's favorite recipes or recent collaborations with local businesses.

Email marketing ideas

8. Don't forget Grandpa

Don't limit your restaurant's Father's Day celebration to Dad. Grandpas are also dads who've been around for a bit longer than dad himself. Introduce a special menu and discounts for senior citizens to show everyone's welcome in your restaurant, especially to celebrate fatherhood of every age. You can even sell some grandpa-specific merchandise for Father's Day to give guests another reason to buy him a gift. Just be prepared to see Dad fighting over the bill. He'll want to make sure Grandpa isn't fretting over the tip anytime soon.

9. Celebrate Dad for the entire weekend

Celebrating Father's Day doesn't need to happen for dinner on a single Sunday. Make it a party worthy of the entire weekend. This longer celebration might even help reduce the typical Father's Day rush. More guests can dine at a restaurant without waiting too long for a table or feeling rushed once their food has arrived. You can even promote different Father's Day meals throughout the week before Father’s Day. To break the week's monotony, treat guests with a Father's Day brunch on Saturday or a Wednesday lunch special.

10. Optimize your restaurant website for Google

You probably have many other ideas for Father's Day promotions. Still, those promotions only make an enormous impact if guests can find your restaurant after a quick Google search and locate it on Google Maps. That's why, before the hectic week of Father's Day, go to your restaurant's website and review profiles on Yelp and Google Business to polish up the information found there.

Double-check whether your business hours are updated and your menu prices are accurate. Most importantly, make sure your online ordering syncs to your point-of-sale system. These fresh updates show your restaurant wasn't scrambling to prepare the night before Father's Day. Google will also notice that you've prepared your website and socials for the best Father's Day experience at your restaurant.

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