winter restaurant trends
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Restaurant seasonality is an excellent opportunity for restaurant owners to take the pulse of fluctuating consumer demand and use it to attract more customers. As the winter holidays approach, let’s look at a few vital winter restaurant trends that will help you boost end-of-year sales and start the new year on the right foot.

7 Winter Restaurant Trends and How to Capitalize on Them

1. People crave comfort food

When the temperature drops and the snow starts to fall, customers crave hearty, filling dishes that will warm them up from the inside.

But what foods are most popular in winter? According to a study by Linganore High School in Maryland, these are:

  • Mac & cheese – 29%
  • Apple pie – 20%
  • Grilled cheese – 14.5%
  • Lasagna – 14.5%
  • Stuffing – 7.3%
  • Mashed potatoes & gravy – 5.5%
  • Casseroles – 3.6%
  • Pot pie – 3.6%
  • Soup – 1.8%

How to make this trend work for you:

Capitalize on winter food trends by creating a special limited-edition winter menu featuring cold-season staples that will tempt customers to visit or place an order online.

what foods to sell in winter: restaurant winter food

Simply add a new category to your existing menu using our intuitive online menu builder. It only takes minutes, and you don’t have to reprint the menu every time you make a chance. You can just use the same online menu for dine-in, pickup, and delivery.

Learn more about creating your menu here:

2. Christmas restaurant delivery is a popular alternative to home-cooked meals

Not everyone wants to cook a Christmas dinner at home. In fact, in 2020, almost half of Brits planned to order food on Christmas Day. Why? 4 in 10 responders said it saves preparation time, and 35% wanted to save time on the washing up.

How to make this trend work for you:

Your Christmas restaurant ideas should include a festive Christmas Day menu that people can order to enjoy a full traditional meal, from appetizers to desserts.

what is the most popular food at Christmas

Are you already swamped with Christmas preparations and don’t have time to implement online ordering at your restaurant? We have good news. You can install the free online ordering system from GloriaFood in minutes and start accepting orders ASAP.

Simply follow this step-by-step tutorial:

Boost holiday sales: start accepting delivery orders this Christmas Install a free online ordering system on your restaurant’s website

3. More restaurants stay open during the winter holidays

Among the chief Christmas restaurant trends is the increase in restaurants that choose to serve customers on key winter holidays.

This makes sense if you think of customer demand. According to a 2022 National Restaurant Association survey, 57% of consumers plan to eat out during the holidays.

How to make this trend work for you:

Put together a holiday marketing plan that will help you stay organized while you’re open on Christmas:

  • Update your opening hours on your website, Google Business Profile, and third-party platforms;
  • Share your holiday plans on social media (58% of the people who want to eat out on Christmas will make a choice based on social media);
  • Use a table reservation system to manage the influx of Christmas customers.
Enable customers to reserve a table at your restaurant on Christmas Day Serve more customers and speed up service with the built-in pre-order feature

Read more: 20 Festive Christmas Restaurant Promotion Ideas for 2023

4. Customers are looking for restaurant holiday promotions

When picking a restaurant for dining in or ordering during the holidays, 89% of consumers will consider deals and specials.

Customers expect discounts and freebies from their favorite restaurants, especially around Christmas. A generous promotion can turn a casual visitor into a loyal patron.

How to make this trend work for you:

Add exclusive winter restaurant specials to your menu, and implement promotions that will help you stand out, such as:

  • Free delivery on all Christmas orders;
  • 10% discount on the total order amount if you order any dish from the Christmas menu;
  • A free slice of apple pie on orders that exceed $40;
  • A Christmas family meal bundle: 3 appetizers, 3 main dishes & 3 desserts.

winter restaurant promotions

Here’s how incredibly easy it is to create a restaurant promo using our promotion templates:

5. January is the perfect month to draw in new customers

Most restaurants focus all their energy on the holidays, forgetting that winter restaurant trends go beyond December. In fact, January is becoming an increasingly positive sales month for restaurants, with January 2023 sales exceeding January 2022 sales by 24%.

How to make this trend work for you:

Don’t end your winter promotions when the year ends. Implement a couple of enticing January restaurant promotions that cater to people’s desires and expectations in the new year.

For example, in 2022, 49% of consumers planned to order healthier food for delivery. Consider adding a few vegetarian options to the menu to cater to a more health-conscious crowd.

post christmas food trends: healthy food

Additionally, add nutritional information to every menu item to help customers make an informed decision about what they eat.

winter restaurant trends: cater to the health-conscious crowd by adding nutritional information to the menu

6. The holidays are about more than just food

78% of people who choose restaurants on winter holidays said this gives them the opportunity to socialize with friends and family.

People booking a table at your restaurant on Christmas will expect more than just good food. They will expect a complete dining experience, from music to decorations, and potential activities and surprises.

How to make this trend work for you:

Decorate your restaurant to capture the holiday spirit and make people feel at home, even outside of home. Play festive music to create a cozy environment where customers can enjoy quality time with their loved ones.

Consider preparing some fun activities for the day, like a festive trivia game or a giveaway. Create a designated photo corner where people can snap group pictures and post them on social media. Don’t forget to display your Instagram handle and encourage them to tag you in the posts.

7. Customers appreciate restaurants that give back to the community

88% of consumers are more loyal to companies that take a stand on social and environmental issues. Restaurants are an integral part of the community, and the winter holidays are the perfect time to give back.

How to make this trend work for those less fortunate:

Any contribution, no matter how small, can help those in need:

  • Set up a donation box for a local charity;
  • Implement a “buy one, give one” campaign where each purchase comes with a small donation;
  • Create a “pay it forward” promo where customers can pay for a warm beverage for anyone who needs it;
  • Organize a fundraising event and donate all proceeds to the local food bank;
  • Ask your staff if they’d like to volunteer as a group at a soup kitchen.

That’s a Wrap

Every season comes with new and exciting possibilities for restaurant owners. Capitalize on vital winter restaurant trends to make the most of the holiday season and attract new and returning customers in the new year.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.