Tips for Helping Restaurants Prepare for Holidays from PMG Consulting

With the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19 and its attendant supply chain issues, holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are more important to restaurants than ever before. With the revenue and the influx of potential new regular customers these special events bring, having all of your ducks in a row can mean the difference between a successful evening or a disappointing one.

Lee Schulman, founder of Panacea Management Group (PMG) Consulting, has three decades of experience in restaurant operations and is well-qualified to speak to restaurant operators about ensuring they have everything in place for a successful holiday event.

“A successful holiday for your restaurant starts with keeping good records,” Schuman says. “One thing I do within a couple of days after every holiday is sit down with a pen and paper and make a lot of notes. How was staffing? How was the flow of guests? Did we run short on anything? What went well? What didn’t? What could have been improved upon?

“Reviewing these notes a couple of months before the holiday comes around is invaluable in helping you anticipate the day and planning how many people you’ll need, so you can start hiring, training and acclimating new staff before the big day comes,” he continues.

After that, Schulman recommends operators follow a timeline similar to this one:

  • 3 to 4 weeks out: Start planning your media outreach. Even if you don’t have your menu in place, this is the time to start planting the seed in people’s minds that your restaurant is a perfect destination to celebrate the upcoming holiday.
  • 2 weeks out: Gather with managers and other key personnel to go over important details. Make sure everyone knows what to expect and keep supply chain issues in mind when sourcing and finalizing the menu.
  • 1 week out: Nail down last-minute details. Have a staffing plan in place and a contingency plan for when someone inevitably calls out. Make sure you have a handyman, plumber or electrician on call, so you’re not desperately trying to find someone when something goes wrong during dinner rush on the big day.

Schulman is the owner and operator of Old Vinings Inn and having worked with such respected restaurant companies as Morrison Restaurants, Inc. (L&N Seafood Grille, Silver Spoon Café), Buckhead Life Restaurant Group (Atlanta Fish Market), Liberty House Restaurant Corporation (OK Café) Brookwood Grill, Stoney River, Here to Serve Restaurants (TomTom) and Saltyard, which he owned and operated from 2018 to 2020. He holds a degree in food systems, economics and management from Michigan State University and attended the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. Now, he runs Panacea Management Group Consulting (PMG), offering consultations in menu research and development, service auditing and training, and restaurant operations procedures and systems.