What to know about dining out on Mother’s Day in Chattanooga

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What are you doing for Mom this Mother's Day?

Mother's Day is May 14, so now is the time to make plans.

According to 20 years of research from the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is the biggest dining-out day of the year. In 2019, nearly 90 million adults said they planned to take their mom out to eat to celebrate the holiday. Those numbers were impacted, of course, by the pandemic, but according to restaurant-reservation platform OpenTable, they now seem to be rebounding.

In 2022, the platform reported reservations up by 39% compared to recent years.

Planning to treat your mom to a special meal this month? Here's what to know about the busiest dining-out day of the year, plus a few tips on navigating the bustling local scene.

1. Make a reservation. It's never too early to put your name on a list. Many restaurants, however, do not take reservations on Mother's Day, but you'll want to find one that does to avoid longer than usual wait times. Find a restaurant that takes bookings on OpenTable app or restaurant.com.

2. Be flexible with your mealtime. According to the National Restaurant Association survey, the most popular Mother's Day mealtimes are midday -- brunch (30%) or lunch (48%). Consider an early dinner around 4 p.m. Or if you really want to beat the wait, take Mom out for breakfast, which only 21% of respondents said they planned to do.

Pro tip: You can estimate a restaurant's busy times with this trick: Search for the restaurant on Google. (You may also need to add the phrase "popular times" to your search.) A bar graph should pop up, showing you the busiest time of day for that particular restaurant. You can estimate the busyness of Mother's Day by doubling those wait times.

3. Get takeout instead. In 2020, a U.S. Foods survey found that 53% of moms preferred quality time at home with their families to a busy brunch out of the house. Carryout or delivery from your mom's favorite spot is one way to beat the crowds, and if the weather is nice, you can take your meal to a nearby park for a picnic.

4. Expect to wait. Even with reservations or call-ahead seating, plan to wait for your table. Families may take longer to finish their meals than usual, and the kitchen staff is likely slammed.

A 2022 National Restaurant Association survey found that those who planned to dine out on Mother's Day said that restaurant incentives largely determined where they would go. Here are the most important factors, plus restaurant recommendations for each.

46% said they wanted a restaurant with a special Mother's Day menu

Recommendation: Public House. Its annual Mother's Day brunch buffet serves breakfast, brunch and dinner items, including a large selection of desserts. Reservation slots are available between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Mother's Day. Make reservations online at publichousechattanooga.com. 1110 Market St.

44% wanted a restaurant that offered a freebie to mom

Recommendation: In previous years, a number of restaurant franchises in Chattanooga have offered deals on gift cards in honor of Mother's Day -- a $10 bonus card with the purchase of a $50 gift card, for example. Those include Bonefish Grill, Chili's, Longhorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster, among others. Call the restaurant to hear about its 2023 deals.

41% wanted a Mother's Day discount

Recommendation: Beef O'Brady's. The neighborhood eatery treats Mom to $10 off her meal with the purchase of another meal on Mother's Day. Call 423-910-0261 to make reservations. 110 Snow Hill Road, Ooltewah

36% wanted outdoor dining options

Recommendation: 1885 Grill. The bistro was voted best outdoor dining spot by Chattanooga Times Free Press readers in 2021. The cobblestoned and quaint outdoor space is shaded by a ring of trees and is located in the heart of historic St. Elmo. While 1885 does not accept reservations, you can call 423-485-3050 for call-ahead and preferred seating options. 3914 St. Elmo Ave.

An OpenTable survey once found that 50% of moms make their own Mother's Day reservations, while dads do it 31% of the time and kids just 15% of the time.