The month of May boasts some big-hitting holidays. The one that pays homage to Mexican heritage and culture is Cinco de Mayo, but it’s widely celebrated in the U.S. by people of all backgrounds.
The day commemorates the Battle of Puebla, where, in 1862, General Ignacio Zaragoza led a small group of Mexican soldiers against a French invasion, and won.
For restaurant owners, this date presents a unique opportunity to create a special Cinco de Mayo menu, use your marketing activities, increase your sales, and maximize your profits. Cinco de Mayo is a great date for restaurants, as they can see an increase in customers wanting to celebrate this date.
Of course, this year you might have to adapt a bit. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you’ll have to adapt certain ideas so you can appeal to all customers, even those that want to stay at home. While this makes celebrating complicated, it’s still possible, and here are 15 Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas that can help you.
15 Restaurant Marketing Ideas for Cinco de Mayo: Menu and Other Activities
Spice up your Cinco de Mayo menu with these ideas!
1. Start some social media events
This one is definitely one of the most important things you should do.
This should go without saying, but don’t forget to promote all your specials and promotions on social media. Create a special event on Facebook and other sites and spread awareness throughout your community. You can even feature your Cinco de Mayo menu to drum up some excitement.
2. Offer drink specials
When people think of celebrating Cinco de Mayo at a restaurant, they aren’t just looking to get a great meal (though that’s important too), they also want to kick back, have a drink, and have a good time.
Get the drinks moving off the shelves by offering a special Cinco de Mayo traditional margarita or other house-made drink of your choice. Don’t forget other traditional Mexican drinks like palomas, micheladas, or alcohol-free aguas frescas.
You can also feature discounts for top-shelf tequila, a make-your-own-margarita option, or a range of Mexican beer.
If you don’t have a liquor license at your restaurant, get one to take advantage of future Cinco de Mayo celebrations and other popular holidays throughout the year. Remember that it can take months to complete the whole process, so plan accordingly.
3. Run a margarita contest
Advertise a margarita contest in your social media communications. Then, set your bartenders the task of creating each a signature margarita. On Cinco de Mayo, run the contest: your customers can pay to taste each one in smaller servings. They can vote for their favorite on a poll at your restaurant or on Facebook.
If you want to continue the promotion (and make some more money), you can feature the winning margarita on your menu for the rest of May.
4. Team up with other businesses to do a themed “virtual crawl”
You’ve heard of a bar crawl, right?
You can team up with other businesses in your community to do this special Cinco de Mayo virtual crawl. This way, your customers could taste tacos, tequila, or pan dulce from different establishments. Of course, this takes some coordination and preparation, so you’ll have to organize it in advance.
If your state’s vaccination is not going as fast and you’d like to offer an alternative for people that are staying at home, you can have a virtual pub crawl. For example, you can team up with other restaurants and offer a Cinco de Mayo virtual pub crawl delivery: they offer 3 or 4 different cocktails, and you provide the food. The sky’s the limit on the different things you can do with other restaurants.
5. Offer a mezcal tasting menu
Don’t forget to include this genuine Mexican spirit in your Cinco de Mayo Menu. Studies show that people drink a lot on Cinco de Mayo—in some places, more than they do even on St. Patrick’s Day. 🍻
For most people, the drink of choice is just regular tequila. However, most people are still learning about the tastes and options of tequilas cousin: mezcal.
Mezcal is a blue-agave-based liquor that, traditionally, it’s cooked in the ground, then let to ferment to make this delicious spirit.
Consider featuring a tasting Cinco de Mayo menu that gives them the chance to get familiar with this traditional Mexican drink.
6. Offer a food challenge contest with some spicy peppers
A spicy pepper contest is exactly what it sounds like and might be an excellent choice for a bar.
Anyone who wants to participate can take on the challenge of trying the spiciest peppers your kitchen can muster. Have customers upload a video of them eating the pepper to your Facebook page. Then, you can either choose the winner (the one that ate the whole pepper or the one that ate the most peppers) or let the audience decide the winner (the one with the most likes).
Of course, there should be a prize for that pain. Whether that’s a special drink or a specialty coupon, the choices are up to you and your restaurant.
7. Offer some “piñata coupons”
Another great way to get your customers to have some Cinco de Mayo fun is to feature a piñata. Of course, it could be messy to actually have customers hit the piñata (and you’d probably need many), but you and definitely create different coupons and give them out at random to each customer that buys or orders food.
No one will know what coupon they got until they open it. It’s not as exciting as a piñata, but it’s an excellent alternative.
8. Feature some traditional Mexican games
When thinking about Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas, don’t forget about games. If you’re looking for some fun games from Mexico. This includes games like lotería, pirinola, or even baleros.
For example, lotería is a lot like bingo, so it’s easier for people to understand it.
You can download loterías online, print them, and play with your customers at a certain time of day. If you want to include customers that ordered food, just send one lotería board with each purchase. On the back of the board, you can add the rules, and host the lotería game also on Facebook Live.
9. Get creative with Mexican desserts
Customers see the same desserts at most Cinco de Mayo celebrations: flan, tres leches, churros, and sopapillas. While all those options are delicious, you can go a step further and design a truly unique Cinco de Mayo menu of desserts that features other flavors, such as Mexican chocolate, Mexican cinnamon, or sweets from regions throughout the country.
Your guests will love it, and your menu will stand out from the crowd.
10. Offer options for family dining
Remember that all kinds of parties will be at your restaurant on Cinco de Mayo.
While promotions on shots of tequila and specials on single servings will be popular, offering family specials in your Cinco de Mayo menu is a great idea too. It’s an incentive to get families to dine at your restaurant or order takeout, which is precisely what you want.
11. Take the theme of “five” and run with it 🖐🏼
Cinco de Mayo simply means the fifth of May in Spanish. Incorporating the theme of five into your Cinco de Mayo menu is a fun way to make the night special.
You can include appetizers of nachos with five toppings, discounts for parties of five or above, or a $5 drink special. You can also play around the number 5 in your upselling techniques.
12. Hold an Instagram contest
By now, you probably have witnessed the immense popularity of online contests on social media. These are an original way to let guests have their own fun while keeping things more low-key. Provide some fun ideas and feature an Instagram contest.
13. Offer some day-after specials too
If your restaurant serves breakfast, brunch, or lunch, offer some specials to help cure the hangovers from last night’s party.
Think about ways you can make your menu special. Whether that’s a special on Bloody Marys (or Bloody Marías, if you prefer 😉), some spicy chilaquiles 🌶️ (a well-known hangover cure in Mexico), some homely Mexican hot chocolate, or just a good old-fashioned brunch spread.
This is a subtle way to keep the party going while making it totally new.
14. Don’t just celebrate one day, host a Mexican Mayo
Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas involve offering specials just for one day. While that be great to attract customers and more profits, during these tough times, you might need more than just a day.
So, why not extend the celebration to a whole month?
There is no reason why you can’t offer specials and fun activities for more than a day, so why not have a #MexicanMayo and celebrate all 31 days.
15. Donate to charity
Last but not least, when thinking about Cinco de Mayo Restaurant ideas, don’t forget to give back to others.
People are there for a party, but they also appreciate remembering the reason for the season, so to speak. Consider promoting a Mexican charity by donating the proceeds of a special drink or appetizer. Good choices include Simply Smiles Children’s Home or Casa Hogar Hijos de la Luna.
If you are looking for great menu ideas to use not only during special celebrations, but all year round, and if you wonder how to price your menu items, keep reading “Menu prices and menu design tips”.
It’s Time to Celebrate and Increase your Profits!
There are innumerable ways to host a great Cinco de Mayo at your restaurant, both for online and in-site customers.
We hope these Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas and tips for your Cinco de Mayo menu help you to set the spirits high and attract more clients. All you have to do is get creative, and you’ll have everything you need to make a night that’s fun, memorable, and well, profitable!
And remember: it takes money to make money. Some of these ideas can really boost your sales, but they may need an injection of capital to come true. It may be the perfect time to apply for a business loan.
If you are considering this option, we invite you to learn more about our small business loans. Applying won’t impact your credit score. It’s all you need to know instantly if you qualify for a business loan with Camino Financial.