New Year’s Eve is the confetti-dotted, shimmering, booze-fueled apex of the holiday season. Between set menus, bottles of champagne, and guaranteed table turns, restaurants have ample opportunities to reap the benefits of guest celebration.

But, as the saying goes, all that glitters is not gold. Without foresight, you could miss out on potential New Year’s Eve business and overwork your staff with an inefficient dining room. On a busy night like New Year’s Eve, a restaurant reservation system is essential for table management and can be a potential sales driver. Reservations allow you to communicate with guests and deliver the customized experience they want during a night out. They can also help you be more precise with your table turns so you can maximize profits on a busy night. 

There is plenty of New Year’s Eve extravagance to go around, especially before January’s asceticism. Here’s how to make the most of it and stay booked and busy as the clock strikes midnight. 

1. Prix Fixe menus

On a big dining night like New Year’s Eve, set menus or prix fixe are a no-brainer. Even if it’s not part of your typical offering, creating a special menu helps your kitchen operate more efficiently and ensures you make a base-level profit on each table turn. Of all the nights, New Year’s Eve is not the one to have a fourtop sharing a pair of appetizers for two and a half hours. 

Crafting a set menu requires some simple menu engineering. First, consult your Product Mix reports to identify popular items and flavor profiles. Identify some high-margin items to add to the set menu. Also, consider selecting items that require minimal plating and last-minute prep time. 

Once you’ve developed your menu, you can build hype around your New Year’s Eve event with email marketing and social media. Use email to share previews of your menu and increase urgency by letting your customer list know they have “X days to book a table” or that there are limited tables left. It’s also helpful to include special hours in your marketing campaigns and check that your Google business profile and website are up to date. Ensure your online reservation system is linked to the email and accessible to social media followers by directing them to the link in your Instagram bio. 

a person pouring wine into a wine glass
A champagne toast always brings the party to your restaurant on New Year’s Eve. Photo by Timothé Durand / Unsplash

2. Offer add-ons

Prix fixe menus come with a lot of advantages. But you don’t want your most extravagant guests to feel trapped within the confines. Supplement your set menus with add-ons, from luxurious caviar toppings and champagne pairings to optional side dishes. Keep in mind these add-ons should be low-effort, high-profit options. You don’t want to offer so many options that your prix fixe menu becomes a la carte again.

Give your guests the option to specify add-ons as they book their reservations. This helps you forecast the items you’ll need for the big night and give your guests a more seamless experience. 

3. Send out the specials  

It’s not just any dinner service—it’s the last dinner service of the year. So, make it memorable. Minor tweaks to your menu can make a significant impact. Customize special cocktail names or send complimentary small bites or glasses of champagne.

You want to make dinner service feel like the year’s best party. It’s vibrant yet intimate and offers something new while still delivering the celebration people come to expect at the end of the year. Experiment with a special drink menu or surprise and delight with a midnight champagne toast. 

gold balloons on brown wooden table
Little touches, like balloons and confetti, can create a festive atmosphere for your guests. Photo by Nathalia Segato / Unsplash

4. Something for everyone

The best restaurant experiences feel curated to a specific guest’s desires. That can be tough when you have a packed room full of people with different tastes. Reservations can help you cater to your guests based on their booking slot. Restaurants typically offer early and late seating on New Year’s Eve. Families, older folks, and people looking to retire before the clock strikes midnight might prefer the earlier seating. Guests booking the later slot are looking for a place to party, a slower pace of dining, and a celebratory atmosphere to ring in the new year. 

With this in mind, you can tailor service to match guest preferences. This could mean coaching staff to upsell specific add-ons based on the crowd or preparing kids’ menus and non-alcoholic offerings. Tinker with the music selection, volume level, and light scheme to create different atmospheres. 

a table topped with lots of plates of food
Before you know it, it’s time for the first brunch shift of 2024. Photo by Caramel / Unsplash

5. New Year’s Day brunch

Why not keep the party going? New Year’s Day Brunch is a popular event for large groups looking to keep celebrating as the new year begins. Plus, it’s a huge money maker for your restaurant. If it’s right for your restaurant concept, offering brunch reservations can help you plan staffing and better manage tables during peak service. 

Cater your menu to large groups and families with children. Buffets are popular New Year’s Day brunch fare and can be a great way to save on labor costs. Whichever kind of brunch you’re serving, communicate the staff schedule well in advance. With restaurant scheduling software, your team members can swap shifts and get manager approval, all within the employee app. Holiday shifts can be profitable, but they can also be inconvenient to staff members’ holiday plans. Sending out schedules earlier empowers them to make a decision in their best interest.

The holiday rush won’t last forever. With the right planning and tools, you can take full advantage of increased foot traffic and bookings and ensure your restaurant and staff have a profitable holiday season. You’ll be thanking yourself come January (when you can finally get a good night’s sleep).

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