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December 12, 2011

Written by: Chris Marrano

I can remember, not too fondly, that particular moment of insanity when I decided to open our sixty seat restaurant on New Year's Day.  

Christmas had fallen on the previous Saturday, and I was bound and determined to recoup the last weekend's lost revenue with a great New Year's Eve service, followed by a solid showing on New Year's Day.

But I neglected to factor in that our restaurant had never opened on New Year's Day in its fourteen year operating history, and that our customers were used to our lights being turned off on this and only a small hand full of other holidays. 

I dutifully erected a sign out front in the plaza where we are located.  That sign stood proud on top of a huge snow bank for the ten thousand or so vehicles that pass by that point everyday.  I was certain that I had found a niche to draw in more revenue and get the year off to a rousing start. 

After all, January 2, in my humble opinion, is the loneliest day in the life of a restaurateur.

Well, things didn't work out the way I had planned. 

We failed to reach our daily  break-even revenue figure (by a lot), and I had a hung-over, disgruntled staff to contend with.    

This experience start me thinking about my colleagues in the food service industry and the approach they take to deciding on what holidays to close for. Of course, I realize that many operations have no choice but to remain open 365 days a year.  

However, my sit-down experience has taught me to close on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. That's five days of lost revenue, not counting blizzards.  Consistency for staff and customers, with the exception of my one ill-timed experiment, seems to have served me well yet still I am tormented on turning off the lights.

I invite you to share your thoughts on this subject as the holiday season passes much too quickly through our well worn hands.  There's a good reason Sales Tax falls on December 20th.  

So have at it.  I seek your wisdom and counsel on this matter, for as much of a failure as my New Year's Day experience was, I am still as un decisive as Hamlet.

To close, or not to close?  That is the question.


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