There are probably tens of millions of sheltering-at-home American moms, fantasizing right now about what might have been for Mother’s Day 2020. Champagne brunches? A day spa visit? Even a simple family BBQ?
Dream on, mamas. This year, the best that can happen is a little Mother’s Day takeout, as the restaurant biz does its best to reinvent itself in the era of social distancing.
It’s hard to overstate the impact Mother’s Day has on the food industry. It’s typically the single biggest day for restaurants, according to the National Restaurant Association, with breakfast, brunch and dinner all popular choices. (Valentine’s Day comes next, followed by Father’s Day.)
KFC, which typically sells 400,000 buckets of chicken each Mother’s Day, is among the most clever. It’s using Messenger to connect people over a bucket of fried chicken for a virtual Mother’s Day.
People can issue Mom an invite via KFC’s Facebook page. An AI version of the Colonel helps coordinate meal time, personalize the invitation with Mom's name and a photo, and then walks users through each step, including reminders of when to start the video chat. Eight people are visible at a time, so it will even work for bigger families.
"Lately, the days are all running together, so it is challenging to figure out how to make Mother's Day a bit more special," says Andrea Zahumensky, KFC’s CMO, in its release. "For almost 70 years, KFC has been a Mother's Day staple for families across the U.S., so we wanted to find a way to help connect loved ones over a shared meal and celebrate Mom even in these unique circumstances. Through this virtual experience and free delivery, the Colonel has everything covered this Mother's Day, except maybe the dishes."
Olive Garden is also pushing a crowd-pleaser: a Take & Bake special that includes cheese-stuffed shells, breadsticks and a salad. The spread feeds five people. And in an acknowledgment that many moms are probably not in the mood to bake anything ever again, it comes with instructions so other family members can give Mom a night offM
And P.F. Chang’s is offering a “Celebrate Mom Kit” that includes a little bubbly and cake for dessert, as well as dim sum, soup, appetizers and an entrée.
Enough to rescue all that lost revenue? Of course not. But it's still encouraging to know that lots of moms will feel some kind of restaurant love.