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Mother's Day is one of the high eating holidays for restaurants
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Scott’s on the Square owner and chef Scott Dixon says Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

When it comes to cooking, in most households that responsibility typically falls on the matriarch’s shoulders.

So what happens on Mother’s Day, when moms everywhere take the day off? Instead of going hungry, most American families head out to their favorite restaurant for a celebratory meal.

"Mother’s Day is the largest eating out day of the year," said Scott Dixon, owner of Scott’s on the Square in Gainesville.

"In general, there’s not another day in the year that’s busier than Mother’s Day. We call Mother’s Day and Easter the high eating holidays."

Even though his 14-month-old daughter, Ella Ray Hames, is too young to decide how to honor her mother, Brad Hames knew exactly what they’d be doing — eating out.

"It’s just easier to not have to think about cooking," said Hames, a Hoschton resident. "And I definitely wasn’t asking (my wife Anne) to cook."

According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, 54.8 percent of Americans treat their mothers to a "special outing like dinner or brunch" on Mother’s Day. When it comes to honoring moms, the survey also reports that despite economic times being tough, most families haven’t cut back on spending.

Last year, around $2.93 billion was generated in the restaurant industry by people eating out on Mother’s Day. This year, that number is expected to be only slightly lower — $2.73 billion.

Larger holiday crowds are a welcome change for many new restaurateurs who are feeling the pinch of a recession. Even for more established eateries like Scott’s on the Square, the Mother’s Day crowd is something to look forward to.

"We used to have a regular Sunday brunch, but we didn’t have a large enough crowd to continue," Dixon said.

"So now we just do Sunday brunch on holidays."

For the Hames family, while Sunday was about honoring mothers, it also sparked a new tradition that may boost restaurant sales on Father’s Day too.

"We’ve never eaten on the square before, so this was really nice and could definitely become a tradition," said Anne Hames, who was there with husband Brad and daughter Ella Rae. "And we’re definitely going out for Father’s Day too, because I don’t plan to cook then, either."

For new restaurateur Helena Dale, Sunday presented a day of hopeful expectations.

"We usually serve around 175 to 200 people on a normal Sunday, but for Mother’s Day, we expected to serve around 300 to 400," said Dale, owner of Ali-V’s Restaurant and Gift Shop in Jefferson, which opened in October.

To sweeten the deal and entice more diners to come out on Mother’s Day, Dale’s staff added a few extras to the menu just for the day.

"We’ve added a few special desserts like peaches and cream shortcake and a key lime, chocolate tart," she said.

"We just wanted to give diners something fresh and light for summer. We tried to add things that would appeal to mothers."

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