With smaller restaurants closed over the New Year holiday, now’s the perfect time to get new customers through your doors.

Everyone is in the party mood, and if they’re not celebrating at home, then they will be looking for somewhere fun and welcoming to eat with family and friends. Make sure your restaurant is their number one destination for a feast!

Of course it is harvest festival time too, so why not go big on those themes of abundance and indulgence by offering generous celebration dishes, tempting food to share and plenty of sweet treats. And take advantage of what’s in season – these ingredients will be cheaper and fresher, and you can make a virtue of it on your menu

If your menus sound tempting and the atmosphere feels right, then you are likely to get several large groups arriving in your restaurant all at once, and all wanting to be fed without delay. Your dishes will need to be quick to assemble and consistent – in both looks and taste.

The best place to start? It’s Sri Lanka, so it has to be rice! Rice is cost efficient, easy to cook in large quantities and you can just scoop it up from pan to plate – it will always look good and taste great. Classic recipes like Dun Thel Bath are perfect for serving with a range of curries and indulgent enough for the festive season

At New Year gatherings there will be lots of different age groups to cater for, from grandparents to babies in arms, and fussy teenagers in between, so when you’re planning your menus think about what will appeal. Be sure to include:

  • Softer foods that aren’t so rich, spicy or salty for the very young (or very old!) ones
  • Crowd-pleasers and all-time favourite dishes with exciting new flavours such as this Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Fried Rice
  • A vegetarian or vegan choice
  • A dish that most people wouldn’t make at home, that will show off your chef skills
  • Simple but impressive festive options such as this Mixed Seafood Yellow Fried Rice


Keep your menu as short and streamlined as possible. It’s quality of your dishes, not the quantity of them on your menu that will keep the diners coming back! This approach will keep your prep-times short and help you to minimise waste in the kitchen

For smooth and stress-free service during the busier season try these simple yet effective planning tips:

  • Keep your menu short and simple – this should keep fridges and work surfaces uncluttered and mean there won’t be too many prep/recipe lists stuck up everywhere
  • Prep as much in advance as you can so that you can focus on plating up
  • Use ready-made rubs for your marinades and ready-made stocks for cooking rice and making sauces (this will really cut down on ordering times as well as prep)
  • Think about presentation and garnishes. Even small things done well can make all the difference. Fresh herbs or an artistic drizzle of sauce from a squeezy bottle will give the simplest dish the ‘wow factor’