The Restaurant Industry Is Dreading Mother's Day (Again)

Eating out to celebrate Mother's Day is a great way to keep mom from cooking up her own scrumptious desserts, eat good food, and enjoy each other's company. But it becomes a bit complicated when everyone has the same idea. On what most consider to be a lighthearted day filled with happiness, restaurant servers are filled with dread as they are pressured to have every mom-requested dish prepared and delivered to tables flawlessly. What's worse for them, yet better for business, are the various specials and buffet options that attract endless streams of mother-loving hordes through their doors all day long.

In 2018, Restaurant Business reported that 34% of adults had plans to spend their Mother's Day dinner in a restaurant and that their bill price soars three times higher on this day than any other, on average. Post-pandemic, the National Restaurant Association's 2023 data reveals that number has risen to 40%, much to the dismay of some hard-working waiters and kitchen staff members.

Even as menu prices continue to rise due to inflation, it doesn't seem to be putting a wrench in Mother's Day plans of large family groups, who may reserve multiple tables to ensure the perfect one is secured. It does negatively contribute, however, to an eatery's slowed workflow, food quality, and the exhausting impact that such an overwhelming day inevitably has on servers.

It's not as profitable as you might think

Shawn Walchef, who owns BBQ restaurants in San Diego, told CNN that Mother's Day becomes "an operational challenge" for his businesses since "guests have the highest expectations" on this day. Businesses like this know it's a special day that should be full of treats, so they do their best to provide them.

Lured by the Mother's Day meal deals, families with loved ones in tow are drawn to restaurants in hopes of snagging savings. But for this reason, food orders don't turn as much profit for these businesses as you'd think — at least when compared to liquor sales. Over 40% of Mother's Day restaurant-goers know they want to order special cocktails, decadent desserts, and anything "free," the National Restaurant Association reported in 2022. 

Speaking of profits, don't forget to tip your server well on Mother's Day. After all, while we as restaurant guests view the holiday as a lovely cause for celebration, waiters have to spend this grueling day on their feet, doing their best to cater to diners' requests instead of being with their own families.

On this Mother's Day and those to come, it might be worth considering a family potluck or a thoughtfully-made breakfast for mom.