How to avoid long restaurant waits on Mother’s Day

We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Mother’s Day is typically the busiest day of the year for any restaurant, thanks to the popular tradition of taking Mom out to dinner so – for one day of the year, at least – she won’t have to cook and clean up.

If you want to avoid long restaurant waits on Mother’s Day, you’ll need some tips.

Empty chairs at a restaurant

Avoid long restaurant waits on Mother’s Day

The problem with this nice idea is that everyone else in the US has it, too, so when you get to the restaurant of your choice, a wait time of two hours is pretty typical.

This can be frustrating, especially if you have small children or older people in your party. I worked in restaurants years ago and found people usually had absolutely no idea they should expect any unusual wait time on Mother’s Day.

There was nothing we could do to speed it up. Our servers were turning tables as fast as they could, but people wanted to linger over a nice holiday lunch. So everyone else had to wait.

But now you know. Read on for several ways to plan ahead and avoid this inconvenience.

Table set for Mother's Day celebration

Getting a table on Mother’s Day

Get a reservation?

Surprise! Many restaurants will not take them on Mother’s Day. But if the one you chose will, this should cut your wait time down to almost nothing. Pro-tip: look for restaurants that take bookings.

Wait until dinner time

A lot of people choose midday for the Mother’s Day restaurant dinner. At dinner time – 4pm or later – the wait time usually decreases to about an hour.

Book a private room at a hotel

If you can get a big group together – and it doesn’t take much extended family to get that going – a banquet room might be worth the expense. It doesn’t have to cost that much, and once you factor in the included meals, it can even be pretty economical. And memorable.

Make a family meal…

…and skip restaurants altogether. Everyone can pitch in by bringing a dish or helping to cook, set tables, clean up or arrange other activities to make a whole day of it.

A backyard barbecue could be perfect and easy this time of year, depending on your weather. This is a great and relatively inexpensive way to do something nice for all the moms in your family at once.

Takeout food

Get to-go food from a nice restaurant. Note that you should still expect a bit of a wait if you order meals from a restaurant, because the kitchen is so busy.

But at least you won’t spend all that wait time in a lobby with antsy children. When you phone in the order, they’ll give you a good estimate of when you should come pick it up.

Reschedule your own private Mother’s Day

Celebrate it on a different day, when restaurants aren’t so hectic. Chances are, the mothers you’re celebrating will appreciate this too, since no one wants to wait in a restaurant for two hours just to get a table.

Plan for the long wait

If you really want to go to a restaurant at midday without a reservation, just expect a two-hour wait and be prepared for it. Bring along something to keep the kids busy.

You can also choose to wait in the bar area where you can order appetizers and beverages (doesn’t have to be alcohol) and even kids’ meals.

And as long as someone stays nearby to hear when your table has opened up, the rest of the party could go to a nearby mall or something for an hour or so and wait for your call. That way at least the moms get some fun during the wait.

Hire some caterers

Enjoy a catered family meal at home if you want to take it easy and/or add a touch of elegance. Remember to assign someone to look after the kids so the moms can really get a break.

And if you want to lay out something really nice, send the moms in the family to a day spa until mealtime.

Whether you try to avoid the wait or just embrace it and plan how you’ll pass that time, just knowing to expect it reduces a lot of frustration and disappointment that could make the day less enjoyable.

Enjoy the post? Why not share it?

Last Updated:

October 27, 2023