- Halloween is one of the busiest nights of the year for pizzerias, but you don’t have to wait until October 31 to cash in on this ever-popular holiday.
- Create Halloween-specific menu items, decorate your store and set a scary mood to get your customers into the “spirit” of the season.
Related: 9 fun, easy promotions for National Pizza Month
By Megan Prevost
The season of spooks and scares is upon us once again, and no holiday loves to celebrate itself more than Halloween. It’s already one of the biggest sales nights of the year for pizzerias. But what if your restaurant is new on the local dining scene or just hurting for business? Promoting some fright-night food and family-friendly festivities just might be the way to create a buzz and even get some attention from the local media.
If you want to throw the Halloween Spooktacular of the year, you can pull it off quickly with just a little preparation. You don’t even have to wait until the holiday itself. Halloween is the kind of occasion that you can start celebrating well in advance. It’s up to you and what you believe will work best for your restaurant. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
Build Out a Spooktacular Specials Menu
It’s not a party if there’s no special menu to go with it! To really lean into the festivities, make sure to use a holiday-appropriate menu design. Come up with a few one-night-only specials that complement the holiday. Can you make a bat-shaped calzone? Or perhaps some ecto-punch? Tombstone brownies? In October 2016, the U.K. chain Pizza Express hired food artist Prudence Staite to create four genuinely scary-looking pizzas topped with common ingredients like pepperoni, prosciutto, black olives, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. Work up a few spooky options of your own, and then print up a specials menu for the occasion. Be sure to add your pizzeria’s logo and your specials, and you’ll be ready to party.
Related: Four Halloween pizzas that will creep you out
Go All Out with the Decorations
Repeat after me: Halloween is not a time for subtlety. Your guests will have the most fun if you lean into the campiness as hard as possible. Put up some fake spiderwebs! Buy some blacklights and glow-in-the-dark decor! If you have whiteboards or chalkboards, write creepy messages in neon colors! If you can create a fun “haunted pizzeria” motif, do it! Don’t skimp on the camp; embracing it will help legitimize your party in the eyes of your guests.
Don’t Forget the Monster Mash
It doesn’t have to be “Monster Mash” only, but you should absolutely have a themed playlist going all night. Don’t necessarily lean too much into the “spooky noise” tracks. Try to stick with actual music, as it will underscore your party better. It might not seem like options are abundant, but you’d be surprised! Think Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “This Is Halloween” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” or maybe “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr. and “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon. Simply searching “Halloween music” online will turn up a host of playlists, songs and spooky sounds to fill your pizzeria.
Show Your Favorite Scary Movies
Scary movies are a fantastic way to set the mood! Pick four or five good options and let them run throughout your party. If you already have a TV in your building, you can set it up to play some Halloween classics through a streaming service or on DVD. If you don’t have a TV set up, see if you can get ahold of a projector and rig it up to project onto one of your walls! Remember that it’s best to keep things family-friendly when picking movies, so leaning hard into truly terrifying movies may not be the right choice. But with a few clutch options (such as “Halloweentown” or “The Addams Family”), you’ll keep the tone fun and seasonal.
Host a Pumpkin Carving Contest
Pumpkin-carving contests are a surefire Halloween hit! If you can reliably get ahold of a good number of pumpkins, you can draw crowds who love to show off their carving prowess. If you’re trying to stay on the theme of your pizzeria, tweak the idea a bit and turn it into a pumpkin-shaped pizza decorating contest! Have your contestants decorate pre-shaped pizza dough with toppings to make the spooky jack-o-lantern face of their dreams. Make sure to consider a prize for the contest; offering a gift certificate is always a good option, but feel free to get creative!
Advertise Your Party Online and in Person
If you’re trying to ensure that your pizza party spooktacular drums up the business you want, you need to advertise it in advance. If you have a social media presence (and if you don’t, you should), whip up a quick post to spread the word about your Halloween bash. You should also utilize a tool to make themed flyers, which you can hand out with receipts or guest checks and post around your business and your area. Provided you do this with a few weeks of lead time, you’ll have plenty of guests show up.
Throw a Costume Contest for the Kiddos
In October 2019, Mici Handcrafted Italian let kids eat for free if they showed up in their costumes. (Parents or accompanying adults had to buy an entrée, of course). The promotion took place throughout late October. This provides a great social media opportunity; with the parents’ permission, you can shoot photos and videos of the cutie-pies with their cheese pies and post them on Instagram and Facebook. They’re almost guaranteed to get likes and shares!
Have a Scary Good Time
You’ve got the guests, the entertainment, the drinks, and plenty of fresh pies to go around, so now it’s time to enjoy the holiday! Remember to dress up and encourage your staff to do the same—just keep it tasteful! Enjoy some punch, mingle with your guests, and give your customers a night they’ll be thinking about when making their plans for next year. Happy Halloween!
Megan Prevost is a marketing content writer for MustHaveMenus. When she’s not writing about restaurant marketing, she’s hanging out with her three cats and binging the latest television shows. Her work has appeared in App Institute, Bar Business, CLH News, FanSided, FSR, Miss Details, Modern Restaurant Management, PMQ, QSR, RestoBiz, RestoHub, Site Social SEO, Small Business Currents, and The Daily Fandom.