In the Kitchen
Giorgio’s corner: How to prep for the holidays
By Giorgio Taverniti
How to prep for the holidays
By Giorgio Taverniti
December is a busy time for restaurants. It is a whirlwind of holiday office parties, family celebrations, gift exchanges and people gathering in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day and throughout Hanukkah.
The holiday office parties and the season itself seem to start earlier every year. Shopping malls dazzle with décor, Starbucks brings back its eggnog latte, and the music – yes, that holiday music starts.
Although the music starts up a touch too early in my opinion, it’s a great indication of when you should start to advertise and prep, as the months leading up to the holiday are just as important as the holiday itself.
These are a few suggestions to have you staffed, loaded and ready to rock for anything and everything the holiday season brings your way.
A long season means more foot traffic, more orders and the need for more staff. An easy way to determine how much staff you will need is to review your traffic and sales from the year before. This will allow you to compare and measure how much staff you will need this year.
Once you review past sales and determine your new holiday hours, another point to consider is having split shifts. This will allow you to have proper coverage for the peak times and also to prevent overstaffing during the off times. Always make it a point to have a pre-holiday meeting with your staff to discuss extended hours, split shifts or any other new changes in effect for the holiday season. You will need the staff up to speed on all new changes and ready for the holiday rush, especially if they have yet to experience it.
Catering is one flexible option you can offer. Not all companies have the budget or the time to go out to a restaurant. A catering holiday menu ensures you won’t miss any opportunities to gain business and gives your customers an array of options. Holiday menus don’t necessarily have to have new items; however, it is festive and fitting to add a holiday-inspired creation or offer an extra perk.
Holiday festivities generally begin before the holiday itself, but some company parties take place afterward due to the high volume of traffic they have within their own industry. An excellent way to accommodate all potential parties is to offer a prix fixe, or fixed-price, holiday menu. Companies that are treating their staff to a holiday party may have a budget in mind and may not want to offer an unlimited menu selection. Although you may not offer a prix fixe menu year round, you should consider it for this type of holiday. You don’t want to lose potential business because you won’t consider the option.
These new holiday options and menus need to be advertised so that customers who are not aware don’t overlook your pizzeria when thinking of where to celebrate. An excellent and cost-efficient platform to promote within is social media. Before the holiday season, you should start to post and drop some holiday hints. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be used for posting pictures, tags, hashtags and announcements. This is the easiest way to let your existing customers know you are offering holiday menus, promotions and extended hours. It also will ensure they don’t forget about your place when selecting a spot for their celebration. A tip: create a posting schedule so that you are not bombarding your followers with too many posts.
If you want to extend the holiday buzz, invite people to share online the details of their holiday parties at your pizzeria. Give them access to your Wi-Fi so that they can sign in, post pictures and take videos. The reach of social media is the best new word of mouth that can stretch far beyond the old-fashioned advertising methods.
Lastly, don’t overlook your employees’ morale as you prep for the season. It’s easy to forget about your own holiday party when you have so many others to cater to, but remember that your staff works just as hard as you do throughout the season and all year, so they will appreciate that holiday party too.
Giorgio Taverniti owns Frank’s Pizza House in Toronto, which has been in his family since 1990. A graduate of George Brown College’s culinary management and Italian culinary programs, Giorgio helped found a popular pizza-making workshop at the college and ran it for three years.