Thriving During the Holidays: How 5 Entrepreneurs Embrace the Unique Seasonal Opportunity

John Margaritas LexingtonJohn Pelletier, Owner and Founder
Margaritas Mexican Restaurant

John Pelletier has always been a smart hustling entrepreneur. At age 16 he was washing dishes at Chuck's Steakhouse in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  By 24, he and his brother Dave acquired Chuck's Steakhouse and turned it into an authentic Mexican concept restaurant. Now, in 2014, Margaritas Mexican Restaurants is among the most successful restaurant chains on the East Coast.

Inspired by the Guadalajara region, each of Margarita’s twenty-five locations is decorated with Mexican artifacts, tiles, pillars, light fixtures and chairs – all of which John and his team truck in from the region - so no two Margarita locations are cookie-cutter, maintaining a truly authentic Mexican experience. Taking it beyond just dining, they also host a twice-a-year visiting artist tour, which brings talented Mexican artists to the restaurants to teach guests about Mexican art and local traditions like wood carving and mask making. They also host hundreds of school field trips each year, allowing local schools to use the restaurant as a mini-museum to educate about Mexican culture through cooking classes and art lessons.

For restaurants, the holiday season can mean a huge influx of foot traffic, as holiday shoppers dine out frequently while shopping. Margaritas takes advantage of this increased foot traffic, providing a Cyber Monday deal that accounts for nearly 20 precent of their overall annual gift card sales. Margaritas targets MARG179 GiftCard_2011early Cyber Monday shoppers, offering a $40 bonus for every $100 in gift cards purchased between 8 and 11am that day. After 11 am, the bonus drops to $30 for the rest of the day. The deal provides fans of the restaurant an opportunity to share the experience with others and to boost the value received.

Hugo Marin, the current President of Margaritas Mexican Restaurant offers the following advice to other small business entrepreneurs for the holidays:

“The Cyber Monday gift card deal has been a very big success for Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, generating a significant number of gift card sales [that are prepaid future purchases]. Gift cards not only put your brand in the purses and wallets of established and potential future guests, but allow fans of your brand to share and evangelize on your behalf, while rewarding them with extra gift-giving value. ”

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