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Profit Pitfalls to Avoid During the Holidays

The celebratory season can be fraught with missteps that impact the bottom line. Here are some do’s and don’ts gleaned from hard-earned experience.


Ignore the value of online marketing
A creative digital profile helps boost visibility. You’re foolish to avoid social media. We do some fun stuff, such as promoting our staff. It gives us more personality.

—Damian DeAngelis, Owner, Bagatelle Restaurant and others, Key West, Florida

Offer dishes you can’t serve properly
If you are a caterer, or a restaurant that does takeout and delivery, be mindful of things that don’t travel well. You could end up with a soggy mess.

—Deborah Lowery, Owner,
Ladyfingers Catering, Louisville, Kentucky

Price things too high
Diners tend to be trying to save money around this time. If items are too expensive, they may not sell.

Get lax with reservations
Be more vigilant with reservations. Confirm large parties, retain credit card information with cancellation penalties and make confirmation calls to guests.

—Cardel Reid, Executive Chef,
The Signature Room, Chicago, Illinois


Get started early
Game planning is critical. We use Thanksgiving as almost a target date for menus. And we’ll have our wine tastings for the season done in September or October. 

Make changes while you have the time
Whether you’re revamping the dessert menu or training new staff members. It’s important to use your off-season to your advantage instead of taking time off or having limited hours. Don’t let your menu go stale.

—Damian DeAngelis

Stay on top of trends
Especially international fare; it keeps things interesting and unique. These days we get lots of requests for Indian, Latin and Italian dishes.

Create fixed holiday menus
Whether the menu is traditional or modern, creating a fixed-price menu is an efficient way to please guests and save them money.

—Deborah Lowery

Cross-utilize products
When we offer a duck breast entrée on the dinner menu, we’ll use other parts for our duck nachos, and the bones to make stock. The same approach works for items such as celery: After the stalks go into a main dish, use the leaves for petite salads and the roots for stocks or soups.

Try out new dishes beforehand
At The Signature Room, we will run new holiday dishes as specials well beforehand to get guest feedback and train the staff in preparation and serving.

Cardel Reid