Food Of The Feast: Memorial Day

This upcoming Monday is, for the United States, Memorial Day. Every year, it occurs on the final Monday in the month, and it is a day honoring and remembering those who have died in the Armed Forces. Originally named “Decoration Day” in memorial of those lost during the Civil War, it has grown to become the unofficial start of summer.

As the start of summer, it has traditionally been seen as a way to start the barbecue season, given a likelihood for nice, sunny, and warm weather that you can enjoy the outdoors. Are you open on Memorial Day? If so, what steps can you take to make sure that all avenues will be properly and appropriately explored?

Should You Be Open?

It’s an interesting question; there’s no legal argument for you to either stay open or closed. It’s up to you. The benefits of closing on this day are…

  • … giving your staff the day off. They may appreciate the time off for a multitude of reasons, whether it be a much-needed break before the summer rush, or the celebration of lost loved ones with families.
  • … respect from your community. Nobody can fault a restaurant for choosing to stay closed on a day that effectively has roots in mourning.
  • … you can get in and out without problems. If you want to stay closed but want to come in for a few hours to take care of a thing that can’t be done when customers are in the restaurant, such as repainting, take care of it during the daytime instead of early morning/late night. This might be a day to have people come out for maintenance, if they’re open themselves.
  • … not being open without customers. Many customers will likely be doing cookouts at home or with family and friends; you might find Memorial Day to be too slow to stay open.

On the other hand, benefits of being open have their argument. You…

  • … can cater to people who can’t grill out, or can even cater for people grilling out.
  • … can keep your regulars who work jobs on Memorial Day in the loop. Many retail establishments not only stay open, but pay time-and-a-half for working on Memorial Day, money that could easily be spent in your establishment. Likewise, stores that stay open might also treat their staff to lunch for the inconvenience.
  • … may see increased sales from certain specials, such as a barbecue-themed menu or discounts offered to veterans and families, or a general promotion such as “free french fries with every sandwich” driving people into the restaurant on what may be a slow day.

What Should You Focus On (If You Are Open)?

  • Your menu should clearly promote and highlight what is traditionally considered “American” food. Hamburgers, hot dogs, cole slaw, and more may not have found their origins in the country, but in many instances, have been co-opted to become a prime American food. Apple pie and more are at the heart of what can be considered a mini Fourth of July.
  • You should honor the sacrifices of others, and keep things respectful in advertising, naming, and more.

In any situation, you’d be remiss to treat the day like any other. Take advantage of either the sales or the renewed staff you can from the national holiday.