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5 Ways to Pump Up Holiday Sales at Your Pizzeria

Develop a holiday-themed menu and offer takeout specials to maintain top-of-mind awareness during the upcoming season of festivities.

  • Yes, the holidays are already a busy season for pizzerias, but that doesn’t mean you can sit back and let the customers come to you.
  • A robust holiday marketing plan can help increase brand awareness, drive more business and turn your restaurant into a popular meet-up spot for friends and family.

By Andrew Beckner

Pull out your sweaters and coats; unbox your tree, menorah or whatever objects you use to celebrate the holidays; and pour yourself a warm glass of eggnog because there’s a chill in the air, which can only mean one thing: It’s time to think about holiday marketing and event planning for your pizzeria!

The holidays are a busy time for the restaurant industry, but that doesn’t mean you can sit back and let the customers come to you. A robust holiday marketing plan can help you increase your brand awareness, drive more business and promote your pizzeria as a festive place to celebrate with friends and family.

Here are five easy ways to set yourself up for success this holiday season.

1. Design a holiday-inspired menu. Whether you are completely overhauling your menu or only adding a few special items, holiday-inspired fare offers your pizzeria many opportunities to increase your bottom line and drive business.

Have you ever tried creating a garlic-bread wreath or pizza wreath? They make for delicious appetizers and mouthwatering content on social media. You can find plenty of recipes online, but a pizza wreath is just a pizza without the middle, and a garlic-bread wreath is essentially biscuits arranged in a circle and covered with garlic butter, with dipping sauce in the middle. They are easy to make, profitable and perfectly seasonal.

You could also include more seasonal items, like soups, meat pies, casseroles and lasagnas—all perfect comfort food for those chilly winter evenings. By serving what’s in season in your area—winter produce like brussel sprouts, artichokes and pumpkins—not only are your dishes fresher and more flavorful, you also save on food costs.

If yours is a full-service pizzeria, don’t forget about your bar. There are lots of delicious seasonal cocktails. Mulled wine, whiskey old-fashioneds, hot buttered rum and the classic eggnog can warm up your guests from the inside out. Additionally, you can serve pumpkin beers, porters, stouts and other hearty winter ales.

Of course, with new items comes a new menu. If you need inspiration or help with your holiday menu design, you can find easy-to-use menu templates online at DIY design services like MustHaveMenus. They come in a variety of styles and are fully customizable, making them certain to fit any brand.

this photo shows sausage rolls arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree
The Sausage Holiday Tree (Fontanini)

Recipe: The Sausage Holiday Tree from Fontanini

2. Offer holiday takeout. While the goal is to fill your pizzeria with satisfied customers, some might want to stay home with friends and family. For those who want to enjoy your pizza without changing out of their comfy pajamas, consider creating a holiday-inspired takeout menu.

Your holiday menu can come with a variety of options and courses, or you could create at least one prix fixe (fixed price) option that includes appetizers, entrees and desserts for a variety of party sizes. Prix fixe menu items can be convenient for both you and your customers. Your kitchen can do all the prep for these items beforehand, so when your restaurant is in the middle of its evening rush, your prix fixe items can be easily fired and boxed for takeout.

For your guests, these fixed-price items mean they don’t have to go through the hassle of taking individual orders for everyone in their family. They can just tell you how many people are in their party, and you can do the rest, churning out delicious holiday meals for the whole family.

3. Run gift card promotions. Get your customers into the giving spirit with your gift card promotions. These can take a variety of forms. Of course, you should promote your gift cards on social media. You can even run social media contests.

The classic “like, follow, and tag” Instagram contest works well for gift card promotions. Here’s how it’s done: You post a photo of a gift card, and anyone who follows your account, likes your post and tags someone in the comments can be entered into a raffle for a free gift card. These contests are so popular because they are easy for you to run, easy for your guests to participate in, and can help you share your brand with a ton of new users.

You can also offer a percentage-based or amount-based discount for every gift card a customer buys. For example, for every $50 gift card, you could give the customer $5 off of their meal. For every $100 gift card, you could give your customer $10 off of their meal.

Whatever promotions you use, make sure you are advertising your gift cards on social media, and make sure your servers are promoting your gift cards to your guests. If you provide counter service, it might be a good idea to invest in some holiday-themed cards and display them near your cash register, making it as easy as possible for your guests to buy a stack of them for their family.

4. Host holiday events. Holiday events can drive customers to your restaurant and make for great content on social media. The winter offers a myriad of potential events. From ugly sweater contests, visits from Old St. Nick, holiday movie screenings, and other winter-themed hooplas, these events can generate buzz and show off your brand’s personality. Make sure to shoot photos and short videos at these events and post them on social media!

Also, Christmas-eve and Christmas-morning events can be smart for your business. No one wants to make dinner the night before Christmas or breakfast on Christmas morning. Even if you don’t open your dining room on December 25, consider offering a handful of brunch options for your guests and making them available via pick-up or delivery through a third-party app like DoorDash, Postmates or Uber Eats.

Your customers will thank you when they don’t have to make an entire meal amid the mess and stress of family holiday festivities.

Recipe: The Pizza Candy Cookie from Ferrero Foodservice

Ferrero Foodservice

5. Whip up some dessert. Have you ever had a pizookie—a pizza cookie? If not, you are in for a treat. Consider sweetening up your holiday menu with a dessert-themed twist on the classic pizza. The crust is essentially a giant chocolate chip cookie. The toppings are healthy scoops of ice cream and typically chocolate or caramel sauce. For the holidays, you can use a giant cookie cutter to make a Christmas tree, topping it with garland made of icing and green and red M&M ornaments.

Don’t stop with the pizza cookie. There are many other pizzeria desserts you can offer, and the holidays are the perfect time to do it, as many of your customers are months away from worrying about their beach bod and willing to splurge on sweets. Try cannolis, tiramisu or churros. There are lots of dessert options for the pizzeria. Find one that fits your brand and run with it!

Like any of your seasonal updates and events, you’ll want to promote your holiday happenings far and wide across social media. A good rule of thumb is two to three posts per week, especially during the holiday season. That’s enough to stay on your customers’ minds, but not enough to annoy them with constant updates.

If social media isn’t really your thing or if you struggle to find time to brainstorm, draft and post new content, a good seasonal marketing strategy can help by generating a steady amount of new items and events to share.

Still, two to three posts per week can be a lot for a busy small business owner. Luckily, you can find free social media posts online that can fill out your feed. These posts are easy to customize and share, keeping your social media fresh and your customers buzzing with holiday event cheer.

Andrew Beckner is a professor, freelance writer and foodie. He has published fiction, nonfiction and poetry. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Chicago Quarterly Review, Sky Island Journal and LandLocked Magazine, among others. You can find him reading at a restaurant patio somewhere in Southern California.