National food holidays are a great way for operators to build a 2021 restaurant marketing strategy that engages guests and drives revenue. On social media, anything can be cause for celebration — even if it’s a sparkling kitchen sink on National No Dirty Dishes Day (May 18) or a caffeinated beverage on National Coffee Day (September 29). In fact, there seems to be a national food holiday for everything, with restaurants highlighting gorgeous brick oven pizzas on National Pizza Day (February 9) or offering free cookies on National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (August 4). 

As restaurant owners welcome back guests in the new year, these seemingly random holidays offer a fun way to creatively showcase crowd favorites and house specialties. 

Remembering the hundreds of national restaurant days can be overwhelming, but don’t worry — we’ve compiled a list of 270 national food holidays to enhance your restaurant’s 2021 marketing strategy. No matter what kind of food your restaurant specializes in, there are plenty of opportunities to join social media conversations, connect with guests, and drive restaurant sales in 2021.

Download your copy of the 2021 Restaurant Marketing Calendar and Toolkit today to get social copy templates, photo ideas, marketing promotions, and other tips to map out your restaurant marketing plan. And don’t forget to add National Chocolate Covered Anything Day to your calendar (it’s December 16, in case you were wondering). In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at some of the national restaurant day marketing strategies for 2021.

1. Launch creative national holiday social media campaigns 

Social media is a valuable tool to drive brand awareness and build a loyal following, particularly with younger diners. Celebrating national food holidays is a great way to highlight your restaurant’s creativity and reach new customers. 

Host giveaways of restaurant retail products

Do you have a secret sauce that everyone wants the recipe for — and that you just happen to sell by the bottle? Or a spice rub that draws diners in from miles away? 

Offer free giveaways of your popular restaurant retail items to drive delivery sales and let your guests stock their pantry with your signature flavors (like Geno’s Steaks does here). 

Consider hosting giveaways to boost engagement, as well. On Instagram, this might mean posing a question to your followers and choosing one commenter at random to win a free retail item, or asking followers to tag a friend for the chance to win two of your house favorites — one for them, and one for their friend (National Best Friend Day on June 8 is the perfect time for this). 

Remember to follow laws and guidelines about sweepstakes and contests when running a giveaway promotion.

Offer festive discounts for national food holidays

On National Taco Day, entice guests to celebrate with a coupon or free guacamole for your restaurant’s tacos. Or maybe you have the best snickerdoodles in the city, and want to give a free cookie to everyone who orders delivery from your restaurant on National Cookie Day on December 4. These limited-time discounts instill a sense of urgency by encouraging people to order that day — and have the potential to transform new customers into lifelong fans. 

2. Let your service shine on popular national holidays for food delivery

Even as customers resume in-person dining, some days are more likely to see diners cozying up at home and ordering delivery. 

Plan for this on big game days, like Game Day — when diners will likely be ordering wings, appetizers, and pizza to snack on while they watch — or on cozier holidays, like Thanksgiving Eve, when people have spent all day prepping and want nothing more to do with their kitchen. Deliveries also tend to spike depending on the weather, so get your kitchen ready ahead of time on a cold, rainy night when foot traffic is lighter. 

While set holidays can be easily planned out ahead of time, be sure to keep an archive of social images at the ready for days with inclement weather so you can quickly share that your restaurant offers delivery at the first sign of rain or snow — and don’t forget to add your delivery link for easy access. 

3. Show off your restaurant brand & personality on national holidays

Brand engagement and recognition is vital in winning over new diners, especially since

nearly half of all diners visit restaurants based on posts they’ve seen on social media. Platforms like Instagram or Facebook are also the perfect space to share your restaurant’s values, team members, and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks — in addition to your gorgeous signature dishes. 

Take Pacific Catch, for example, which used National Seafood Month as a way to highlight their dedication to ocean protection and sustainable fishing practices on both social media and their menu all month long. 

Once you reel guests in with social media, they can get inspired to post about their experience and share new, captivating photos of your dishes that you can feature on the restaurant’s account.

4. Use national restaurant day hashtags to your advantage

On National Spaghetti Day, feeds are flooded with pictures of twirling pasta, influencers claiming things to be “impastable,” and #nationalspaghettiday. Adding these and other more unique hashtags to your posts is an easy way for people to find your restaurant. 

Include general hashtags for the holiday, but also be specific so people who live nearby can find you easily — think #sanfranciscofoodguide or #chicagotaco. To boost brand recognition, you can even encourage people to post photos of your food using a hashtag unique to your restaurant, like Playa Bowls does below. 

Don’t forget to tag other accounts, as well, especially those who may repost your photos. Include the farm you source ingredients from, your neighborhood alliance, or your cheese purveyor. Think of it as building an online community with all the vendors and neighbors who keep your restaurant running.

Reach hungry diners year-round with the 2021 Restaurant Marketing Calendar and Toolkit

With more than 270 national holidays to consider as you craft your 2021 marketing plan, there are countless ways to reach new diners, expand your brand following, and increase engagement —  all while boosting revenue. 

When approached in a fun, strategic way, your restaurant marketing campaigns can give existing and future guests a sense of your restaurant’s personality — and a sneak peek of exciting changes and dishes on the horizon. 

For an illustrated calendar of all the national food holidays — and more social media ideas from real-world DoorDash merchants — download your copy of the 2021 Restaurant Marketing Calendar and Toolkit today


Sara DeForest

Sara DeForest is a Bay Area-based freelance copywriter. Previously, she was VP of Marketing at an early stage startup that was named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies. Prior to that, Sara was a content marketer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Though Silicon Valley is a roller coaster, Sara finds her real adrenaline rush doing standup comedy, and has performed at SF Sketchfest, 208 Comedy Fest, and (most often) seedy dive bars.