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 2020 will be a very complicated celebration, though. The country—and the world—is facing an unprecedented situation: the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of this health crisis, most states are still under quarantine, and restaurants can only offer to-go services. While this makes celebrating complicated, it’s still possible, and here are some Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas that can help you.
15 Ideas for Cinco de Mayo Menu and Other Activities
1. Offer drink specials
When people think of Cinco de Mayo dinner, they aren’t just looking to get a great meal (though that’s important too), they also want to kick back and have a drink.
Get the drinks moving off the shelves by offering a special Cinco de Mayo 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, you must 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.
2. 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. Whether that’s a special on Bloody Marys (or Bloody Marías, if you prefer), the option to get Mexican hot-chocolate, or just a good old-fashioned brunch spread, think about ways you can make your menu special.
This is a subtle way to keep the party going while making it totally new.
3. 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 (online) activities for more than a day, so why not have a #MexicanMayo and celebrate all 31 days.
4. Run a margarita contest
Spice up your Cinco de Mayo menu with this idea!
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 Facebook poll.
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.
5. Start some social media events
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.
6. Team up with other businesses to do a themed “virtual crawl”
You’ve heard of a bar crawl, right? Well, that seems kind of impossible during lockdown orders. Fortunately, you can have a virtual pub crawl.
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.
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.
7. 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 tequila. However, most people are still learning about the tastes and options of mezcal. Consider featuring a tasting Cinco de Mayo menu that gives them the chance to get familiar with this traditional Mexican drink.
8. 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 most likes wins).
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.
9. 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, you cannot have an actual piñata, as customers cannot be at your restaurant. But you and definitely create different coupons and give them out at random to each customer that 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 for quarantine.
10. 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.
You can download loterías online, print them, and send just one lotería board to each customer. On the back of the board, you can add the rules, and when you’re hosting the virtual lotería game on Facebook Live.
11. 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.
12. 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 order takeout, which is precisely what you want.
13. 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.
14. Hold an Instagram contest
By now, you probably have witnessed the immense popularity of online conte4sts 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.
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.
It’s Time to Celebrate!
There are innumerable ways to host a great Cinco de Mayo at your restaurant, even if it’s during the current quarantine.
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!
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 this article.
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 fill this brief application that won’t impact your credit score. It’s all you need to know instantly if you qualify for a business loan with Camino Financial.