Playing to the concept
For easy marketing and execution, it is important for restaurants to consider what holiday traditions fit best with their concepts. Lebas at Panzano, for example, plans to serve panettone this year—the traditional Italian sweet bread loaf served at Christmas and New Year. The restaurant further highlights its Italian roots with a five-course tasting menu on Christmas that plays off the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Another Italian concept, Tratto, in San Francisco partnered with a local winery for its Feast of the Seven Fishes last year. “There aren’t many San Francisco restaurants that celebrate the December holidays from an Italian angle but open to all,” says Rafe Gabel, senior vice president of restaurant operations at Puccini Group, which handles the operations and marketing for Tratto.
Holidays are special times for guests, which adds an extra layer of responsibility on restaurants. Experts in holiday dining agree, guest expectation for food and service is higher than normal for day-of dining. To meet that expectation, restaurants have taken to adding a special touch of luxury to holiday menus.
At a.o.c. in Los Angeles, chef Suzanne Goin adds a dollop of caviar to dishes to mark the occasion. Beverages, too, are a great way to up the ante on a holiday meal and make a moment feel more celebratory, like a complimentary glass of Champagne sent to each guest on New Year’s Eve to toast at midnight.
MATCH Restaurant & Lounge in Phoenix pairs wines and a signature holiday cocktail with its special menus, as does Tratto. “The menus are preset offerings with optional beverage pairings that include hyper-seasonal ingredients with some contemporary twists on classics,” Gabel says.
And The Corner Office in Denver, which has taken a renewed commitment to the celebratory aspect of the martini, plans to lean into that campaign even further when designing upcoming holiday menus.