Building LTO Menus for Special Occasions

Limited Time Offers (LTOs) are promotional offers that last for only a defined period of time. For restaurants, this could either be a discount promotion on a certain type of food item or special food item(s) being introduced. For special days of the year, such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, an effective way to incentivize guests is by using a LTO menu for that day or span of days around the holiday.

The Menu

What will you offer?

Some ideas to get started: 

  • Try creating items that are familiar to your customers, but have a new concept to them. For example, a Breakfast Pizza.
  • Think of ingredients that are trending or in-season. For example, arugula and spinach for spring.
  • Do some research on what has worked well for competitors in the industry

The Details- When completing your list of limited-time offers, think about what extras you could offer to upsell or make for a better experience. Some questions to ask yourself would be - what sauces or dips will be offered? Are there optional side orders with the meal? How will you package it for takeout?

Try This- A hand written note addressed to the guest, for example, wishing them a Happy Mothers Day and thanking them for dining with you. This is a thoughtful, special touch that won't go unnoticed.


LTOs are meant to be profitable, so don’t hesitate to price them at a slightly higher price point than the rest of your menu, especially if it is a unique concept.  Build up the idea that the LTO menu items are worth splurging on because of the special occasion. Communicate the fact that the offer is only taking place for the certain day or period of time and that they shouldn't miss out.

Also, be sure to calculate the profit per plate on the LTO items. Individual plate costs make for more accurate profitable menu building. Be consistent with portion sizes and how much of each ingredient is used each time it's made. Have a standard ingredient list with ingredient quantities for each, as well as preparation steps for each dish. If calculations are made well in advance, you have the ability to tweak and adjust recipes to insure high profitability.


When it comes to special occasion menus, menu design is just as important as your standard one. Particular colors and fonts give off a more special occasion look, while still keeping your restaurant brand in mind. Also, consider placement of items, putting the more profitable items higher up or adding a pop of color or shape around them to draw attention to it at first glance.

Promoting your Menu

Here's what you can do to market your menu effectively: 

  • Use your social media accounts to communicate- a month away begin announcing what you will be offering for this special occasion.
  • Use incentives or discounts- this could be something such as buy one get one half off on dessert 
  • Printed materials- such as flyers or postcards displayed in your restaurant and placed around the community
  • Put it on your website- create a separate tab on your webpage or a section on your homepage announcing your plans
  • Train staff to mention these Limited Time items 

Using Social Media 

If you are not on social media, this is the time to join! Besides being completely free and easy to use, read our reasons to have an active presence on social media here. If you choose, there are options to create paid ads to target people in your area of a certain demographic on sites like Facebook and Instagram. 

Basic ways to promote using social media

  • Sharing an image of an item on the menu
  • Posting an image of an item you are offering a discount on
  • Posting an image of your physical menu on Facebook 
  • Sharing “stories” leading up to the day of your preparations 

Other considerations for when you plan to promote your menu:

  • Plan out a calendar or timeline with dates of when you will get tasks done leading up to the occasion
  • Come up with a set budget and put in measures to track spend
  • Implement a way to take photos and video on the special day as content to use the following year as you promote 
  • If applicable, implement a way to take pre-orders and provide info about this well in advance on social media 
  • Create a fun contest or giveaway themed around the special day. For example for Easter, guess how many eggs are in the container for a free T-shirt
  • Collaborate with a local artist or entertainer so you both can cross promote your business leading up to the event
  • Create an event on Facebook members in your community can share, increasing visibility