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5 Cinco de Mayo Marketing Ideas to Try in Your Restaurant

5 Cinco de Mayo Marketing Ideas to Try in Your Restaurant

Give me one margarita, I’ma open the restaurant door

Give me two margaritas, I’ma send my servers to the floor

Give me three margaritas, I’ma turn up the tunes

Give me four margaritas, I’ma move more chairs to the room… 

Five margaritas? As any true marg lover knows—venturing beyond a fourth is a recipe for regret. Nonetheless, consider this your formal notification to prepare your limes and pre-salt your glasses because Cinco de Mayo approaches. Tequila shots aside there are a multitude of wonderful ways to get festive. 

What is Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that translates to the 5th day of May. A yearly celebration, and true to its name, it is celebrated on May 5th. The day is a celebration of Mexico’s victory over the Second French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza.

When is Cinco de Mayo?

As mentioned, it lands on the 5th of every May and this year, Cinco de Mayo falls on Sunday May 5th, 2024.  

If you’re considering celebrating at your restaurants, we have outlined the best options to prepare. 

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Decorate your restaurant

Decorating for Cinco de Mayo is a sure fire bet to set the tone for festivities.  A celebration of Mexican heritage and culture, it opens the door for a variety of ways to embrace a festive atmosphere. It is essential to respect the cultural significance of Cinco de Mayo and avoid any stereotypes or culturally insensitive decorations. Here are some options to consider: 

Color scheme

Using the colors of the Mexican flag (white, red and green) is a good option for selecting the perfect Cinco de Mayo decor color palette. From tablecloths to streamers, balloons or wall art, ensure you choose the correct shades so everything is harmonious. 


Piñatas, a type of decorative paper-mache container commonly associated with Mexico, is a great idea for interiors. You can use these as decorative elements within your space or potentially even have a piñata-breaking event. 

Mexican Flags or Banners 

If you want to invest in some decor that will be perfect year to year, consider hanging Mexican flags or banners. These are no-brainers for incorporating your colors and having zero-waste options. 

Festive Additions 

Think outside the box when it comes to creating the vibe. If you don’t want to hang decorations there are many options outside of traditional decor. Light candles or lanterns in a specific color-way, play Mexican artists music or even explore small touches like a special drink garnished in a festive way for the day of celebrations. 

Create a special Cinco de Mayo menu

Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful way to attract new customers. Creating a menu that speaks to the holiday, with Mexican recipes and ingredients is a thoughtful and needed touch. Here are some ideas to making an authentic menu: 

Do your research

Get online and explore what traditional dishes might be popular and fit with your demographic. Consider including some classics like: tacos, enchiladas, tamales, chiles rellenos, and mole.

Experiment with ingredients

If you feel you can’t stray too far from the style of cuisine you offer, explore using ingredients that are common to Mexican cooking. Ingredients such as corn, beans, avocados, tomatoes, chili peppers and lime deliver savoury notes of Mexico. 

Offer a celebration cocktail 

Revamping your drink menu for Cinco de Mayo to offer customers a special cocktail or mocktail is another perfect option.  The aforementioned margarita is a popular drink year round but there are so many others to choose from: palomas, micheladas, horchata or a selection of Mexican beers and tequila.

Design a themed menu 

The devil is in the details! If you are offering a unique selection for the day of Cinco de Mayo, think about designing your menu to feel festive. Use the colors and motifs discussed earlier and come up with some creative names. These small notes are never lost and your clients will appreciate them. 


Host a Cinco de Mayo party or event

If you want to step it up a bit, consider planning a special Cinco de Mayo event or party for your restaurant.  Using the information above creates a solid base of ideas for both decor and menu planning. But there are some things to consider: 

Plan ahead 

Start thinking about your event in advance to organize all the essential details and promote your party accordingly.  

Create your menu

Once you zero in on the dishes, ingredients and drinks you want to offer for the occasion, make sure you order well in advance anything necessary. Anticipate that these will be popular picks and stock up on all the needed items. 

Consider entertainment 

Depending on the level of investment you want to make, entertainment can be a worthwhile addition for your party or event. From dancers to musicians or even a DJ, depending on your space, entertainment guarantees to bring the vibe. However, research and reviews are needed to assess the right fit for your brand. 

Promote your celebration 

Let customers and would-be customers alike know about what you’re planning. Use all the resources at your disposal to get the word out: social media, email marketing, in-house advertising (on screens, in menu take-away). Put the effort into promoting it well in advance to ensure its success.


Launch Cinco de Mayo promotions and deals

If you want to up the enticement for your customers to join you for Cinco de Mayo celebrations, it might be worth exploring a special promotion. Here are some options: 


Free live entertainment 

From a mariachi band to dancers, if you’ll have entertainment within your Cinco de Mayo festivities—make this known to your customers. Tell them about what they can anticipate and frame it as a night that’s so much more than a meal: free entertainment. 

Happy Hour 

Whether you decide to make your Cinco de Mayo a day event or stretch those celebrations, Happy Hour tends to deliver both drink orders and happiness. Make those specialty cocktails work for you by providing a sweet deal during the slower periods for early festing. 

Social media contests 

Social media contests can do double duty in creating activities around a theme and driving foot traffic to your establishment. From the simplest of concepts, like guessing how many pieces of candy are in a piñata to commenting on a post for a chance to win a meal with friends—you’re guaranteed to bring engagement to your pages and greater awareness of your celebration. Consider working alongside a local foodie influencer to amplify your results. 

Loyalty program specials 

Tap into your customer base by extending a special offer to regulars. A round of drinks, two for one appetizers or 15% of their tab, is not only a way to create a crowd but to solidify relationships with those that already love what you have to offer. 

Cinco de Mayo themed decorations surround a point of sale hardware.

Track your results

Once you are rounding down your Cinco de Mayo marketing campaigns, it’s time to assess the results of your work. There are different ways to measure success and use this information to inform future strategies. Here are some effective ways: 

Sales data

Perhaps the most straightforward to compare your sales from the previous dates the year before. Examine key metrics like the number of items sold and average bill size as well as the total sales.  Take a note out of the book of former President Obama’s favorite food spot in Montreal, Joe Beef—who use Lightspeed to get both a macro and micro view of what’s working.  Explains General Manager James Graham-Simpkins, “[Lightspeed reports] have helped us a lot by making it easy to extract that data easily, quickly and to understand it and put it on paper.” Bar 404’s General Manager Rohit Sharma agrees, “With Lightspeed, I can check the sales, see who had the highest gross sales, who had the lowest and I can coach the employees who aren’t performing really well.”

Promo tracking

If you are creating a special promotion for the holiday, this is an ideal way to track progress. Make sure you have some type of code to track the redemption. This gives you insight into the popularity of what was offered and the impact on traffic. .

Social Analytics 

While advertising for your event and for any posts that highlight your celebrations, contest or otherwise, make sure to track your likes, shares and comments. Even monitoring your numbers from pre and post event as well relevant hashtags you employ—these data points can highlight where you can improve for next time. 

Customer Feedback

One of the most important ways to assess how your celebrations went is through word of mouth! Consider creating small surveys for regulars that attended your event so they feel comfortable to be candid about what they loved or what you could do differently next time. Being open to customer feedback is a great way to see what customers are looking for and what is really driving value in their eyes, for not just Cinco de Mayo but all year round. 

Come what Mayo…  


What’s worse than a two-day tequila hangover? A missed opportunity. Like Christmas, Cinco de Mayo comes but once a year and provides loads in the way of flavours, culture and entertainment—making it an ideal way to capture the imagination of old and new clientele. Find the fit for your restaurants that aligns with your customers, menu and general vibe. This could be as simple as including a specialty cocktail or dish that celebrates Mexican tastes to a full on party.  The biggest takeaways are to plan ahead, respect the culture (do your research!) and track your results to see what ultimately resonated with your regulars and drove traffic to your door. 


How do companies celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

There are a variety of ways companies can celebrate Cinco de Mayo including but not limited to: special promotions, sales, cultural events, decorating, social media campaigns, community involvement, educational involvement, collaborations and charitable initiatives. 


What are popular foods on Cinco de Mayo?

One of the most beloved dishes of Mexican cuisine is the flavoral and versatile taco. It is an ideal dish as it offers many interpretations and can be tailored to almost any dietary restriction. No taco would be complete without the favorite condiment: guacamole. Guacamole is a classic Mexican dish made from mashed avocados, onions, tomatoes, lime juice, and cilantro.  A lesser known dish is Chiles Rellenos. Chiles Rennenos is flavorful fare that consists of poblano peppers that are stuffed with cheese or meat, coated in a fluffy egg batter, and then fried until golden brown.


How to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without cultural appropriation?

It’s important to respect and honour the significance of Cinco de Mayo and avoid stereotypes and a superficial representation.  The first step is to educate yourself and learn about the history and significance of the holiday. Learning about Mexican culture, its art, history and traditions. Be extremely mindful of respecting religious and cultural symbols as well as paying close attention to not using the Spanish language in any way that is mocking or disrespectful. Lastly, refrain from wearing sombreros, moustaches, or other costumes that reduce Mexican culture to a caricature. 


What is eaten the most during Cinco de Mayo?

Some of the most commonly eaten foods on Cinco de Mayo are tacos, guacamole, salsa, enchiladas, chips and dip, churros and margaritas. Enchiladas are a Mexican specialty consisting of corn tortillas rolled around a filling, covered with a chili pepper sauce, and baked. Churros are a delicious fried-dough pastry coated in cinnamon and sugar. 


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