Are Restaurants Busy On Memorial Day? (Revealed)

Memorial Day is one of the federal holidays that a lot of people around the US celebrate, as this is a day reserved to commemorate those who lost their lives while in service to the US military. Celebrated every last Monday of May, Memorial Day may be a reason for people to want to go to restaurants and take advantage of the free day. So are restaurants usually busy on Memorial Day?

Restaurants can be somewhat busy on Memorial Day but not to the point where people are seen lining outside the door. Even if bustling with activity, in truth, restaurants are generally busier on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or even Super Bowl Day than on Memorial Day.

The thing about Memorial Day is that, while it may be a day where some people tend to dine out to take advantage of the free day that they have, it isn’t the celebration kind of holiday for most. It’s more of a commemoration than an actual celebration. And because of the solemnity surrounding this day’s meaning, you shouldn’t expect restaurants to be overly busy on Memorial Day.


Are Restaurants Busy On Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is one of the eleven federal holidays, according to OPM, celebrated all over the entire United States. This is a holiday that’s observed on the last Monday of May and was established to commemorate those who fell in the line of duty while in service to the United States military. So, in a way, this is more of a remembrance than an actual festival.

Memorial Day is always on a Monday, so it creates an extra eat-out day for restaurants. Even so, Memorial Day isn’t very busy for most, with a few exceptions like in tourist areas. Still restaurants are likely to be busier on Memorial Day Monday than other Mondays of the year because it’s a holiday.

So, if you are someone who is thinking of going out to eat with family or friends on Memorial Day, you might be wondering if restaurants are actually busy on this holiday.

As mentioned, people like to take advantage of any free time they have on their hands so that they can spend time eating out with family or friends. As such, Memorial Day can be somewhat busy for restaurants because there will be people who may want to use the holiday as a reason to eat dinner in a restaurant.

In this way, restaurants will be busier this Monday than most any other Monday. In fact, it’s probably more like eating out on a Saturday or Sunday because of the ‘weekend’ likeness.

Still, what you can expect is that Memorial Day won’t really pack restaurants as much as some other holidays and celebrations do. Sure, restaurants can get somewhat busy on Memorial Day but you still aren’t likely to see droves of people lining up outside the restaurant unless that restaurant is particularly special or popular, or visited by Gordan Ramsey!

The reason why Memorial Day isn’t really one of the busiest days for restaurants is that this is a holiday that is, again, more of a solemn or quiet commemoration rather than a cause for a party in many people’s view. Some people would want to celebrate the holiday in a more somber way, like at home with family or by visiting gravesides.

So, if you want to dine out on Memorial Day, you probably are going to get some seats, and won’t require reservations. Yet, because more people are ‘off’ that day than a typical Monday, it may require you have a bit of a wait time in some places.

Two Reasons Restaurants May Be Busy On Memorial Day

Often restaurants (and stores) offer military families discounts on Memorial Day.

Even though Memorial Day holiday isn’t a typically busy holiday time for restaurants, there are a couple of instances where it can be busy.

Because Memorial Day is at the end of May, many see it as a good time to take a vacation. In that way, some tourist areas see a spike in restaurant activity due to people visiting. Also, Memorial Day often is the day people host get togethers and order local takeout like pizza and wings.

Let’s dive a little deeper into some instances where restaurants may actually be busier on Memorial Day than many other days of the week/year.

Reason 1: Memorial Day Vacations Lead to Eating Out

Many people look to Memorial Day as the start of vacation. It’s not that they’re using Memorial Day because it has vacation meaning; it just so happens that Memorial Day occurs when many people are ready to take a vacation (i.e. ‘unofficial start of summer’)

Whether people take a short holiday to visit family, go on a hike or camping, or start their summer with an extended vacation, Memorial Day is often a time that sees people getting away from the house. And this could translate to a surge in restaurant business.

If families are out of the house, that usually means they’ll be eating out, too.

Reason 2: Memorial Day Means Get Togethers

As well, Memorial Day is often the beginning of the backyard bbq/cookout season since it’s the time when weather is growing warmer in most places, especially here in the US.

This means dads from Maine to Florida and from California to Virginia are prone to pull out the grill and fire it up! (However, if the grill is in need of replacement, you can find our favorite inexpensive grill options at Amazon!)

Even though grilling means putting burgers and hot dogs (and chicken and steak…) on that barbie, usually families end up ordering some popular takeout/delivery items, too, at their cookout, especially for the little ones.

When this happens, it means local fast food restaurants, as well as mom & pop eateries, will see a rise in business from weeks or months before starting on Memorial Day. This may not mean you will have to wait for tables at your favorite eatery, but the food times may be a bit delayed.

What’s the busiest day for restaurants?

As mentioned, Memorial Day pales in comparison to lots of other holidays and celebrations when it comes to how busy restaurants can be. So let’s take a brief look at what those busiest days for restaurants are:

  1. Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days for restaurants. In order to give mom her true day off, this means she won’t be in cooking her own dinner! Thus, a lot of families prefer to dine out than to eat dinner at home with mom out of commission!

After all, families want their mothers to be able to rest instead of cooking a good meal for herself and the family.

Mothers everywhere are happy to have someone else do the cooking on ‘Mother’s Day’ so restaurants tend to be especially busy on this particular Sunday.

As such, restaurants are usually packed during Mother’s Day, requiring reservations at many places that normally would not need so. And this isn’t simply limited to dinner, because a lot of people also eat in restaurants for brunch and lunch during Mother’s Day.

My own family has taken me out several times for Mother’s Day. I fondly remember one very special Mother’s Day when my family took me to a favorite Irish restaurant. As if that wasn’t special enough, my sweet husband had arranged for a celloist to play for an hour during our dinner!

  1. Father’s Day

Similar to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can be one of the busiest days for restaurants because this is one of the days where families are not shy about spending big for a good dinner. And an especially popular spot on Dad’s day is a steakhouse!

In fact, according to a study from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics, 77% of Americans celebrated Father’s Day in 2018 by spending an average of $133 per person!

The primary reason why families are more likely to spend big during Father’s Day is that they want to be able to give something special for the “man of the house”, who is known to be the one who brings home the bacon.

As well, spending dinner out for dad on Father’s Day is really a gift for the whole family because time together is just as important and special to Dad!

This is why a lot of American households tend to spend Father’s Day in restaurants.

  1. Valentine’s Day

Of course, there’s Valentine’s Day, which is arguably second only to Mother’s Day for dining out. And because people love to dine out on Valentine’s Day as ‘a couple event’, this is one of the busiest days for restaurants all over the country.

The reason why Valentine’s Day is a busy day for restaurants is quite obvious. Couples would want to spend a romantic evening dining in a good restaurant instead of simply going on any other kind of date. It’s like ‘killing two birds with one stone’ for lack of a better idiom! After all, everyone has to eat, so why not make it special and call that the Valentine’s gift?

Even if couples want to do something else for their Valentine’s date, like a theater show or museum, most dates start or end with a good dinner.

However, Valentine’s Day isn’t only about the couples. According to Entrepreneur, there are actually plenty of single people who still eat out during Valentine’s Day, particularly as a friends group. Also, many families eat out as a ‘family Valentine’s Day date.’

Men usually spend an average of $71, while women spend about $40 when eating out solo on Valentine’s Day.

A 2010 movie aptly titled Valentine’s Day, available on Amazon, centers on this hearts and kisses holiday named for St. Valentine, if you want to check it out for your special evening next February.

Many couples celebrate Valentine’s Day with a movie and dinner out.
  1. Super Bowl Sunday

Surprisingly, Super Bowl Sunday is also a very busy day for restaurants. This isn’t a national or federal holiday, but it is a major sporting day that only happens once a year. (And if your boss is really, really cool, you might even have the next day off to recuperate!)

Because Super Bowl is arguably the biggest sporting event in the US, people tend to go to restaurants to watch the game with friends, like a sports bar or pub. Meanwhile, restaurants take advantage of the situation by holding watch parties wherein people can eat, drink, and cheer while watching the game.

And some lucky fans who attend the game in person will either tailgate prior to going in with some takeout/fast food or eat inside, buying hot dogs and such from the restaurants and food stands on premises.

And for those watching the Super Bowl game at home? Well it’s very common practice to order pizza from the local pizzeria or chain like Papa John’s or Pizza Hut during the game.

What days are restaurants least busy?

Besides Memorial Day holiday, there are a few other holidays where restaurants don’t see any increase in business or where restaurants don’t have ANY business!

The two most common holidays that aren’t busy days for restaurants are actually Thanksgiving and Christmas. And really, it’s easy to understand why.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are usually holidays wherein people would rather stay at home and prepare a big feast to eat with their family rather than eat out in a restaurant.

These days are not like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day where moms/wives/girlfriends are ‘treated’ and thus, don’t cook. Because Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about the family, Americans would rather stay at home.

However, even on these holidays, there are going to be a few that are open and even busy (since not many restaurants are open, that is!). And for those that are open, they charge a premium price, so keep that in mind if you find yourself eating out on Thanksgiving or Christmas in the US.

Wrapping Up Are Restaurants Busy On Memorial Day?

To summarize, Memorial Day is not particularly busy for restaurants. It’s not typically considered a ‘festive’ holiday so many families don’t tend to eat out to honor it.

However, there are a few exceptions.

  • Some restaurants see a spike in business on Memorial Day because of travelers, especially those restaurants in touristy areas.
  • Also, because many families cookout or host get togethers on Memorial Day to celebrate the start of summer, local fast food takeout/delivery might see a surge in sales that day.
  • As well, Memorial Day Monday is generally busier for restaurants than typical Mondays since it’s like an extension of the weekend with people off for the day and deciding to eat out. So in that case, a restaurant could be considered ‘busy’ on Memorial Day!

To be sure about a restaurant being open on Memorial Day, it’s recommended to call ahead and check before venturing out!

For further reading, you might also like: Does Amazon Deliver on Columbus Day? (Answered)

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