Published on April 25, 2018

Moms Love Restaurants: The Stats Behind the Busiest Dining Day of the Year

Think Valentine’s Day is the busiest dining holiday of the year? Think again. When it’s Mom’s Day, everyone comes out to play! 


But seriously, on Mother’s Day 2017, restaurants were up in total covers 63% on average from the average total covers seated on a Sunday. So we asked our analytics team to dive deep into guest and restaurant behavior around the holiday. When are people booking? What are the popular cuisine choices? Is it “mom and me” time or a whole family affair? What times are guests most eager to dine? And how do restaurants prepare for the crowds? We have the answers.

Mom Knows What Mom Wants

Surprisingly, eggs and mimosas may not be exactly what mom’s craving. In 2017, 46% of guests dined during dinner on Mother’s Day, which is slightly more than 41% of guests who opted for brunch. And moms are all about prime time dining. Last year, diners searched most for tables at 7:00pm, followed by tables at 12:00pm. This year is not much different! So far, 7:00pm is once against the most sought after reservation time, with 11:30AM as the second most desired.

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Three or more is a party on Mother’s Day! Last year, bigger party sizes accounted for over 65% of brunch reservations—58% of reservations for 3-6 guests and 7% of reservations for a big crew of 7 or more. As a result, parties of 1-2 made up only 35% of guests who dined at brunch, which is down -20% from a typical Sunday. 

And it’s not just about mom after all. Diners are looking for a cuisine that’ll please the whole family! The most highly sought after food in 2017 was American (30%), with Italian (10%), Bar/Lounge (10%), and Seafood (9%) competing for the number two spot. After looking at all reservations on the books so far for 2018, diner behavior isn’t expected to change. So far, American food accounts for 50% of reservations already on the books with Italian (10%) and Steak (3%) in their respective second and third positions.

Not shockingly, Reserve’s most sought after Mother’s Day spots serve those popular cuisines. The most desired 2017 reservation was at Dan Barber’s acclaimed restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, which serves New American fare, and this year, San Francisco’s favorite Italian spot, Locanda, is the most sought after. If you were trying to book at these hotspots, you may be too late! Here are our most popular restaurants for Mother’s Day:

  • Chicago: Cindy’s (2017, American) and Monteverde (2018, Italian)
  • New York: Blue Hill at Stone Barns (both years, New American)
  • New England: Via Italian Table (2017, Italian) and Row 34 (2018, Seafood)
  • Washington DC: Sfoglina (2017, Italian) and Del Mar (2018, Seafood)

While you may not be able to book at any of those restaurants, we have news for you: 2% of Reserve partners that aren't typically opened on Sundays for brunch and dinner are opening their doors this year just for the special day. Make sure to check your favorite spots!

And if you haven’t done any planning yet? As it turns out, you’re not alone: in 2017, 50% of all meals on Mother’s Day were made by reservation, with 18% of reservations made the day of, 10% the day before, and 36% within a week before. While we always recommend making a reservation for a busy holiday, if your plans are subject to change, you can always walk in!

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How restaurants prepare for the year’s busiest holiday

If you’re a restaurant, we have some interesting stats for you too! Roughly 18% of Reserve restaurant partners who offer Sunday service have already made special shifts for the holiday and changed something about the way they typically operate. What’s one thing restaurants don’t need to change? Their turn times. Reserve’s data reveals that there’s no statistically significant difference between meal times on Mother’s Day than a regular Sunday.

Thinking about protecting yourself against cancellations and no-shows? 14% of Reserve restaurants have a cancellation policy in place for Mother’s Day 2018, with 29% of them having set one up specifically for this day. Most restaurants have chosen per cover fees, which this year, range from $5 to $275 per cover, while a smaller percentage have implemented a flat rate for the whole party, ranging from $25 to $50 per party.

Free lunches DO exist: enter our Mother's Day giveaway

This year, Mother’s Day doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. For a chance to take your Mom out for free for the holiday, enter Reserve's #OliveMyMom giveaway for a chance to win a meal for two. To enter, from April 25 - May 9, follow @Reserve on Instagram, share a photo of you and your mom (or anyone that’s been a mother figure to you!) on Insta using the hashtag #OliveMyMom and tag @Reserve in your caption! Full giveaway rules here.

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