Restaurants ready for Halloween weekend

Oct. 25, 2011 | by Alicia Kelso

New research by the National Restaurant Association predicts that 20 percent of Americans will order takeout or delivery from a restaurant this Halloween.

Among younger adults (age 18-34) and families with trick-or-treating children, that figure rises to 33 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

The NRA's research also shows that 16 percent of adults will go out to a restaurant or bar to celebrate Halloween during the weekend or on Oct. 31.

"While not a traditional holiday for dining out, Halloween is clearly an occasion where restaurants play a major role in celebrations, according to our new research," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. "One-fifth of consumers say they plan to use restaurant takeout or delivery on Oct. 31, signaling to restaurant operators that Halloween specials and promotions around off-premise options might be a good idea."

The holiday may provide a sales boost for restaurants, as it falls on a Monday, typically the least popular day of the week to dine out.

Among those planning to dine out, 32 percent said they will seek an establishment with happy hour or other pricing specials; while 22 percent will select a restaurant that encourages Halloween costumes or competitions.

Additionally, 16 percent prefer locations with activities for families and children; 15 percent will choose a restaurant or bar located near activities, such as Halloween parties, parades or haunted houses; and 7 percent say a location with Halloween-themed food and drink items and decorations is their top choice.

QSRs showcasing Halloween-themed LTOs

Plenty of quick-service establishments are offering treats, and a few tricks, for Halloween. Here are a few (see some photos here) to incorporate on Beggar's Night.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts features three Krispy Skremes items, including the Jack-o-Lantern Doughnut, a pumpkin-shaped doughnut with orange icing and a jack-o-lantern face; the Spider Web Doughnut, a chocolate-iced doughnut with Kreme filling and web icing; and the Chocolate Iced with Halloween Sprinkles Doughnut. Also, Krispy Kreme is offering Halloween-themed game ideas at

Cold Stone Creamery and Tim Hortons Canada have teamed up to offer an Originals Jack O'Lantern Cake. The round, orange cake combines Sweet Cream ice cream, layers of Yellow Cake and frosting.

Dunkin Donuts' Halloween lineup includes the return of the Boston Scream Donut, a Boston Kreme Donut with special orange icing drizzle. Participating Dunkin' Donuts restaurants also will feature additional Halloween-decorated donuts, as well as a Halloween treat bag free with the purchase of a 50-count box of Munchkins.

Baskin-Robbins' flavor of the month is fittingly the Trick-Oreo-Treat ice cream. It features vanilla ice cream, Halloween Oreo cookies and Baby Ruth and Butterfinger candy pieces.

Jack in the Box has brought the Pumpkin Pie Shake for a limited time, through the end of the year. It is available in regular (16 oz.) and large (24 oz.) sizes and includes whipped topping and a Maraschino cherry on top.

Culver's has rolled out pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin spice shakes, as well as a pumpkin pecan Concrete Mixer.

Sonic's new Pumpkin Pie Shake features real pumpkin, ice cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and pie crust pieces.

Dairy Queen's Blizzard of the Month is Pumpkin Pie. It includes actual pumpkin pie blended with vanilla soft serve and topped with whipped cream and nutmeg.

Wendy's has brought back its Jr. Frosty Halloween Trick or Treat gift books for $1. Wendy's donates 90 percent of all treat book sales to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The fundraiser began in 1992 and has generated millions of dollars for the Foundation.

McDonald's restaurants in Southern California will offer one free bag of apple slices to costumed customers under the age of 12 on Halloween. The one-day offer is available at participating units in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties from 4-7 p.m. Oct. 31.

Read more about special promotions and marketing campaigns.

Topics: Coffee/Bakery/Donut , Food & Beverage , Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Trends / Statistics

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with, and has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, and Franchise Asia magazine.
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