Quickly and Easily Create LTOs
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Restaurant Insider
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Quickly and Easily Create LTOs

By: Ireland Lee & Sabrina Huda Sanchez

LTOs, or Limited Time Offers, enhance excitement around seasonal events and holidays by using the concept of scarcity or exclusive menu items to increase sales. With added sales being a primary benefit of LTOs, food service operators should consider running them. Valentine's Day is an ideal time to add creativity to your menu and run promotions. Improving a few existing menu items to make them photo-worthy and shareable on social media can attract customers and bring a festive touch to your establishment for Valentine's Day. It's not as complicated as it may seem.

Sprinkles, Sweethearts & Other Various Toppings

Monster milkshakes have gained popularity in recent years, known for their extravagant and eye-catching presentation. To create a monster milkshake, start with a classic milkshake flavor and add over-the-top toppings, making it as visually appealing as possible for social media. If you serve milkshakes, consider decorating the cup with a candy rim, adding a generous dollop of whipped cream, and finishing it off with Valentine's Day-themed toppings for a festive touch.

  1. Conversation Hearts

Conversation hearts are a fun and engaging way to drive social media attention, as they inspire conversations and interactions. You can purchase wholesale conversation hearts at a low cost, or take it a step further and customize them with your store's name for a unique touch.

  2. Red, White, and Pink M&M’s

The Mars Company makes it easy with their seasonal M&M color packs, making it simple to add a festive touch to your drinks or desserts for celebrations like Valentine's Day and weddings. This is a clever way to add a pop of color and theme to your offerings.

  3. Sprinkles

Sprinkles are a versatile and reliable option for adding a festive touch to your menu items. With a wide range of shapes, colors, and transparency options available, it's easy to find the perfect sprinkle for any occasion. To save money, consider purchasing individual colors instead of themed packs so that you can mix and match for different holidays. For example, you can use red and green during Christmas, and then use the red for Valentine's Day and the green for St. Patrick's Day.

  4. Chocolate Chips

February is the month of chocolate, so why not incorporate it into your menu items? Topping a drink with chocolate chips and giving it a Valentine's Day-themed name is a simple and effective way to appeal to customers. Ghirardelli offers high-quality chocolate chips that you can special order from LollicupStore.

  5. Chocolate Décor

Making your own chocolate toppers is a fun and creative way to add a unique touch to your menu items. Simply melt chocolate and pipe it onto a parchment sheet in desired shapes. Place it in the fridge until it firms up, and then add it on top of a cloud of whipped cream to create an eye-catching LTO.

  6. Cereal

Regular or special edition cereal can add a playful touch to your menu items. Consider using cereal like Lucky Charms with marshmallows, which evokes feelings of childhood nostalgia and excitement. This can be especially appealing to customers, especially if they are children themselves.


Food Coloring

Adding food coloring to drinks or food items is a quick and easy way to match them to a holiday or season. For Valentine's Day, consider adding red food coloring to a vanilla frappe on your menu for a festive touch.


Renaming menu items is a straightforward way to give them a holiday or seasonal twist. For Valentine's Day, you can take a strawberry shake, for example, and rename it to "Sweetheart Milkshake." This simple change can easily update your specials board and requires only a little creativity and a chalkboard.


Photo Op

  1. Decorate the store.

Having photo opportunities for customers can help drive engagement and spread awareness of your establishment. Consider adding a mural or wall piece that customers can take photos with, or setting up a photo booth with seasonal decorations. These photo ops not only add to the customer experience but also provide opportunities for social media posts and word-of-mouth marketing. They can be easily set up and taken down for different holidays, making it a cost-effective way to add some fun to your establishment.

  2. Dress up the storefront.

Having an aesthetically pleasing storefront can increase user-generated publicity. Set up a backdrop or staged area for customers to take photos of their purchases, similar to what content creators and influencers do with lattes. This technique has been successfully utilized by popular cafes such as LalaLand and Hola Café, as well as small, locally-owned establishments. By providing a visually appealing setting, you can encourage customers to take and share photos of their experience, increasing exposure for your business.


New Twist to An Old Favorite

Consider combining popular flavors from your menu to create a new, seasonal offering. For example, if chocolate and peanut butter milkshakes are your top sellers, try combining the two flavors to create a peanut butter cup milkshake, topped with Valentine's Day sprinkles. This allows you to create a limited-time offering (LTO) without incurring any additional cost.


Special Deals

Limited time offers (LTOs) can also include sales and promotions to attract customers. For Valentine's Day, you can offer a buy one get one deal and market it as a "Valentine's Day sweetheart special". The key is to tie in the promotion with the holiday's theme. This can be applied to other holidays and seasons as well, by marketing any type of discount or sale as a special event.



Limited time offers can create a sense of urgency for customers and add variety to your menu. By utilizing simple tweaks, promotions, and creative marketing strategies, small businesses can easily participate in seasonal and holiday events, keeping customers engaged and interested in what's new.