5 Tips to Make Thanksgiving Count

Thanksgiving is not just one day but encompasses almost a whole week of opportunities for bar owners and operators. Patrons will want to come on out on Black Wednesday, stop by on Black Friday and even check in on Thanksgiving Day, if they feel welcome at your establishment. And that’s why, Dafna Aaronson, marketing and business development manager for In The Raw in Chicago, is planning multiple promotions during November to entice patrons to the restaurant for Thanksgiving. But to get started, it takes entrepreneurial spirit and giving customers what they want. Here are five more tips on hosting a Thanksgiving promotion that will put money in your pockets.


1. Start early. At In The Raw, the staff looks at Thanksgiving as “almost the entire month” of November, helping clients get in the holiday mood by introducing fall items and fall drinks to patrons. “It becomes a visual thing that they can taste and sample at the restaurant,” Aaronson says. As Thanksgiving approaches, the restaurant puts out two newsletters to make things more targeted: On of the first of the month to welcome guests to the new season and one on Nov. 15, when “we’re in go-mode, so we talk about things specific to Thanksgiving."

2. Create an interactive experience. Aaronson says that one of the things the restaurant values most is being connected with its clientele. “We want to make it interactive and a community experience through blogging and social media. When we put out pictures of anything new, it’s letting those people know that we are interested in our community.” The top sites Aaronson focuses on include Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Additionally, In The Raw started its own blog that is posted to its website to connect with people in a different venue.

3. Think about the guest. Part of In The Raw’s Thanksgiving promotion is about giving back to guests. “When you’re giving back, it’s appreciated,” she says. In fact, all of Thanksgiving week, the restaurant will offer a $10 gift card when guests dine in for dinner and spend more than $75. Guests will also receive $5 off any dine-in or carry-out order ranging from $50 to $75. It’s all part of being in the festive spirits, Aaronson adds.

4. Try everything (within reason). This is In The Raw’s first Thanksgiving. The restaurant has been around for seven months, so it’s having fun with its promotion. It’s a fun time for us,” Aaronson explains. “It’s something we’re really excited about. It’s fresh and new.” This means capitalizing on multiple days, including: Black Wednesday, where the restaurant will offer drinks and appetizer specials. It’s a place for guests to “meet up, congregated and have a comfortable place to go;” and Black Friday, where guests get free coffee with any breakfast purchase.

5. Find your message and repeat it. Promotions are part of a great initiative to promote new parts of your business, Aaronson explains. In The Raw is taking this philosophy seriously. The restaurant’s chef will be leading a cooking class for guests starting in November, preparing a Thanksgiving side and Thanksgiving dessert. These creative approaches give guests an idea of what In The Raw is doing. This event mixed with Black Wednesday and Black Friday promotions get the message out. “Your targets are seeing the message more than once—more than twice, hopefully.” That and “integrating it with people’s approach to the holidays is also important,” because “it becomes one of their accessories to holiday prep.”