There’s something that feels almost magical about businesses during the holidays. Colorful decorations, bright lights, gorgeous window displays, seasonal food, and special events. But how does that all happen? How do you as a business owner plan and prepare? I sat down with Charlie Marshall, the Chef and owner of The Marshal, to learn more about his business and how they operate during the festive season.
🎥 Watch the interview and find the inspiration you need to elevate your customers' festive experience this holiday season!
The Marshal is a sustainable farm-to-table restaurant in New York City
Keep reading for key insights from the interview, including event specifics, inventory tips for specialty items, and the lasting impact of seasonal events & festive activities on customer retention.
Insider Tips On Creating Incredible Holiday Experiences With Charlie Marshall, Chef & Owner of The Marshal, NYC
What does the holiday season look like for your business?
I think that the holidays, at least in New York City and any urban area, are what you make of them. So if it's not your busiest time of year, there may be something you can do to make it your busiest time of year. We really seize on the holidays, we decorate the restaurant pretty extravagantly. And then we do some Christmas events. I think it's really important for the community to see you giving back, so we do some kids events that are free. But we also really celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and then make the whole season fun. We decorate, we do holiday catering menus, and we do gingerbread decorating adult happy hours, things like that that really kind of get people engaged in the business and make people want to come back after the holidays are over.
You said you've already been busy in the holiday season, and then you're adding all of these extra events and offerings. What does that planning, preparation and execution look like?
The first time, it can be a little bit difficult. I think that it’s also not expecting too much of yourself. You have to do things with boundaries. It’s easy to go overboard during the holidays, and so it's important to be reasonable about what you're doing and not also expect too much. You're asking more of your staff during the holidays, they're going to make more money. But also you have to understand they're taking time away from their family.
You have all these new products and events that you don't typically do. How does it affect your inventory, your order management, and how do you handle it for changes?
We do a lot of office catering and so we try to create a little bit of crossover between our Christmas menu and our office catering menus. That way, even if it's not normal items that we're bringing in, at least they're in for more than just two days. And that creates some sort of continuity. So we're serving the Christmas dinner pot roast now in the restaurant as a special. And then we're also serving a catering menu. Maybe it'll sell out and it'll come off the menu, or maybe it'll be a special for a little while longer. We buy three geese every year. If they sell out, that's great. And if they don't, I'll take it home.
Overall this is a lot of extra things that you're doing for the holiday season. Why do you do it? Why should another business follow in your footsteps and, and go all out the way you do?
I think that if you don't enjoy the holidays you probably shouldn't go all out. I just love Christmas. It's a really fun season and it's fun to see Christmas cheer and see the holidays and all the people get wrapped up in it and appreciate it. When you have a chance to pull on the heartstrings, and connect your business to an emotional part of the year where you really have the audience captivated for a full month, that is some opportunity that only comes around once a year. The kids who come to do it for free will remember it for the rest of their lives. The adults that come in and do it for a happy hour are gonna have a heck of a time. And so you create that ingrained memory and you create that loyalty that will be there for the rest of the year.
You also give back to the community and do some things for free. What makes it worthwhile?
When you see the parents' face, when they've got two or three kids with them and their kid decorated their first gingerbread house - the parent knows they didn't have to assemble the gingerbread house, they don't have to clean up the royal icing off the walls, and their kid is so happy and also completely sugar high on all the cocoa. It's very fun when you see how happy those parents are. I will tell you that my pizza delivery is never ever so busy as the three nights after we do the gingerbread decorating workshops, because the parents are so grateful. What do they do? They go home and they order our pizza, and they order three or four and then we're slammed for three days. It costs you very little time and it creates great goodwill. The kids love it, and it's a blast for the staff, and it's a blast for us to see the kids just so excited.
Check out the Gingerbread House Decorating Workshop on Instagram!
Join me in thanking Charlie (@TheMarshal) for generously sharing his insights with us in the Seller Community 😊
As we embrace the festive season, celebrating with family, friends, and our businesses, we invite you to share your holiday plans and how you're incorporating them into your business. Comment below and don't forget to share this post with your network. Wishing you all a joyous and prosperous holiday season!
Aylon Pesso is the Square Small Business Evangelist, helping sellers run their businesses better. Based in the U.S., he is a former small business owner, consultant, and Square Seller.
This article is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, you should consult with a qualified legal professional. Cover Photo Credit: The Marshal Instagram (themarshalnyc)
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, you can register with your Square Login.