How Restaurants Can Succeed In The January Slump

How do restaurant owners approach the post-Christmas dip in dining?

As the glitter of the holiday season settles back down to the ground and the new year begins, many restaurateurs fear the notorious January slump in reservations and foot traffic. Yet after 23 years at the helm of my breakfast restaurant, INA'S, I've learned that January is not a lost cause, but an opportunity to shine. Here's why.

Holiday hangover. People are overwhelmed by the remnants of Christmas, from lingering decorations to the perpetual loop of festive tunes. Offering a serene escape from the holiday chaos becomes a magnetic allure—so it's a good idea for restaurants not to let all those red and green tchotchkes linger too long.

Party fatigue. The pressure to attend every holiday gathering throughout December has, by January, left many revelers craving a return to routine. Restaurants can fulfill that need by providing a consistent and reliable dining experience.

New Year's exodus. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone ventures out on New Year's Eve for a big celebration. Some opt to stay in altogether, only returning to the dining scene once it has calmed back down from those over-the-top parties and events. Tap into this untapped market by offering a warm post-holiday welcome.

Restaurant tips for post-holiday success

To turn January into a thriving month for business, restaurateurs can consider these tips.

Set the mood: Switch your previously festive playlist to quiet instrumentals that soothe rather than overwhelm. Create an inviting atmosphere that encourages patrons to linger.


Present a warm welcome: Crank up the heat to make your establishment a cozy refuge from the winter chill. The physical warmth will complement the emotional warmth of a restaurant's hospitality.

Offer sweet surprises: Welcome diners with a complimentary treat, such as an amuse-bouche—it's a small gesture, but one that speaks volumes. Express gratitude for their patronage and wish them a Happy New Year, even if it's a couple weeks into January.

Ultimately, patrons seek a sense of homeliness and familiarity when they dine out. They often yearn for the comfort of home, but crave the experience of being somewhere more novel. Be the bridge between these desires. A restaurant's personal touch, consistency of experience, and warm reception of its guests are the ingredients for a bustling January, proving that this month can be a boon, not a bane, for business.