The spookiest time of the year is upon us, and with it comes the thrilling anticipation of Halloween. This holiday gives restaurants unique opportunities to have fun and offer extraordinary experiences for their guests. From thematic decor to immersive pop-ups, explore a myriad of ideas to leave a lasting impression on your customers.
Themed food and drink to usher in spooky season
Collaborate with your kitchen team to create unique dishes that embody the spirit of the holiday. Determine whether you’d prefer to offer this menu before Halloween or reserve it specifically for the big day.
Turn this into an experience by creating a seasonal, produce-forward menu and pairing it with Halloween beers for a special, one-night-only event. Consider collaborating with local breweries and wineries or source spirits from your vendors for an exclusive pairing.
Alternatively, you can lean into the kitschy side of the holiday while still putting your food and drink at the forefront, like the Cocktails & Screams’ Ghostface Brunch in Orlando. During the daytime, this speakeasy and lounge includes a specialized-themed menu, dressed-up characters from the franchise, and a showing of Scream! and Scream! 2.
As for libations, go all out with a Halloween-themed cocktail list. Think blackened, charcoal-forward drinks to jello shots in the shape of brains. Or source what you have behind the bar for a booze-forward pairing. The Bistro at Mountain View Vineyard in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania did exactly that for their festive tasting. Last year, the winery paired five of their wines with five candies, plus a sample of their house-made mulled wine. To increase profits, the winery also upsold wine, beer, and cocktails as an add-on.
Family-friendly fun that caters to kids and teens of all ages
Why leave all the trick-or-treating fun to households? Restaurants can create a welcoming and exciting atmosphere for families during Halloween.
Entice families of all ages to your business by offering special combo deals, including family-style feasts with appetizers, entrees, and desserts for a discounted fee. Or offer a “kids eat free” promotion if children under a certain age wear a costume to your establishment. If your restaurant has heavy foot traffic, consider handing out candy to trick-or-treaters and post it on your social media to help build brand awareness.
Prefer to pull off a large, family-friendly event? Take notes from Witch Craft Halloween Pop Up in Brentwood, New York. Operating now until Halloween night, this pop-up is hosting an all-out themed party inspired by the movie, “Hocus Pocus.” The 90-minute ticketed reservation includes family-friendly sing-along performances and photo opportunities with the movie’s iconic sibling trio, the Salem Sisters. For an additional fee, guests can order food and themed drinks, including a shareable witches brew served from a bubbling cauldron.
Remember, Halloween isn’t just for young children; families with preteens and teenagers will also be looking for entertainment. Recognizing this, Dickens Parlour Dining Room in Ocean View, Delaware, is going all-out with a movie night. On the weekend before Halloween, the venue will be hosting a film festival event with a showing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” For $99 per person, the evening includes a haunted buffet dinner, a Rocky Horror Movie kit, and a costume contest. To do something similar at your venue, think of investing in a projector and creating a lineup of spooky, non-alcoholic mocktails for teens and an alcoholic version for adults to enjoy while they watch.
Utilize your space for immersive, themed activations
Make the most of your space this Halloween by creating immersive activations throughout your establishment. Use cobwebs, skeletons, pumpkins, and eerie lighting to transform the dining room, and invite your staff to dress up as the holiday draws near. If weather permits, consider setting up outdoor seating areas with Halloween-themed decorations.
VGS Chateau Potelle Winery in St. Helena, California, added a bit of Halloween cheer for the occasion in 2022. Outfitted for their wine club members, the winery decked out their tasting room with pumpkins. Members were able to pick up their monthly selection of wines as well as a Halloween pumpkin. The venue also encouraged members to invite up to two guests, effectively expanding their customer base in the process. Go one step further and host a pumpkin carving day, either as a family-friendly event or a special date for two.
Spotlight your Halloween offerings with strategic marketing
Marketing your Halloween experiences through various channels like social media, email, and more can significantly enhance your success. Upload pictures of your decor, share details about your themed menus, and share stories of spooky staff on social media to invite people to your establishment and help build excitement.
Remember to provide detailed captions, including time, date, and type of activation. Be sure to monitor your accounts more than usual to respond to any customer’s inquiries and DMs.
Do you have Halloween-specific experiences you’d like to launch? We’re here to help.