COVID-19 is putting the kibosh on the usual parties, trick-or-treating and candy sharing that typically take place on Halloween. And while nearly everyone is wearing a mask now, the monster faces and skeletons that come with Halloween costumes don’t qualify under CDC guidelines.
But a number of restaurants are not letting a pandemic spoil Halloween festivities. Operators are scaring up family activities and iconic food and drink items to get customers into the celebratory spirit.
Several concepts in the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant group are planning menu specials for the holiday. Beatrix started offering cookie-making kits during the quarantine and is extending the idea to a Halloween-themed version. Each kit ($16.95) comes with six Halloween-shaped cookies, five icing bags and sprinkles.
Over at Osteria via Stato, customers can order up a Halloween family meal for carryout or delivery to feed two to six diners ($69.95 to $119.95). Each includes ciabatta with roasted garlic, Caesar salad, Roman-style pizza, spaghetti with mini veal meatballs and “Scary Sundaes” with all the fixings for a DIY dessert: Housemade vanilla gelato, gummy worms, crushed Oreos, M&Ms and marshmallow, caramel and chocolate sauce.
Dunkin’ Brands is debuting its Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut in time for Halloween, but fans can enjoy the extra-hot sweet until December. It’s a classic yeast donut ring topped with strawberry-flavored icing spiked with a blend of cayenne and ghost pepper, then finished with red sugar crystals. Dunkin’ is also bringing back its iconic Spider Donut for Halloween—a ring topped with orange icing, chocolate drizzle spider legs and white icing eyes. And new this year are DIY Donut Decorating kits with prepackaged white, black and orange icings; they’re available in four- and nine-count donut sizes.
One Krystal location in South Cobb, Ga. will be transformed into a haunted drive-thru on Oct. 31. From 4-8 p.m., families can drive up to view the spooky decor and place orders with costumed team members. Employees will hand out candy to all the kids who yell “trick or treat” through the car window. Customers hungry for more substantial fare can order from Krystal’s regular menu.
Candy is also on the menu at Blaze Pizza. Starting at 4 p.m. on Oct. 31, anyone who visits a participating Blaze Pizza—either curbside or inside at the pickup station—and says “trick or treat” will receive a free full-size chocolate crunch candy bar. No purchase is necessary. It’s a reward for missing out on all those fun-size chocolate bars that usually fill the trick-or-treat bag.
While candy is dandy, TooJay’s Deli is offering free kids’ meals from Oct. 29-Nov. 1. In honor of Halloween, children under 12 can order a free breakfast, lunch or dinner from the kids’ menu with the purchase of one adult meal. Popular choices include burgers, tuna melts and mac and cheese, all of which come along with sides such as carrot sticks with ranch dressing, red grapes and french fries, plus a signature TooJay’s mini black and white cookie.
Papa Murphy's is returning its Jack-O-Lantern Pizza to the menu, available through Oct. 31. The Jack-O, as it is nicknamed, is a holiday tradition for many families, according to the chain. The dough for the take-and-bake pizza is shaped like a pumpkin and topped with red sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni and olives to resemble a smiling jack-o-lantern face. Customers who purchase the Jack-O can add a pound of Papa Murphy's chocolate chip cookie dough for $3 more.
Grownups are also getting some treats this year, as bartenders concoct Halloween-themed cocktails. At Shooters Waterfront in Fort Lauderdale, the bar is serving The Great Pumpkin, a mix of vodka, ginger beer and tangerine nectar for an orange tint. Over at Cafe Prima Pasta in Miami Beach, the special Candy Corn Cocktail is on offer. It’s a blend of vodka, candy corn, pineapple juice and cream. Kids who dress up in costume on Oct. 31 and accompany their parents will be treated to a free dessert at the restaurant. And since Halloween falls on the same date as the second full moon of the month—aka the “blue moon”—the Shelborne South Beach created a blue cocktail. The Crystal Blue Persuasion includes tequila, blue curacao, lime juice and agave.
Close on the heels of Halloween comes the Day of the Dead, a holiday traditionally commemorated in Mexico as Dia de los Muertos on Nov. 1. But HalfSmoke in Washington, D.C. is holding a Dia de los Muertos celebration on Oct. 28, inviting guests to take part in a three-hour sugar-skull painting class on its outdoor patio. Participants have to purchase $25 tickets in advance and the price includes a La Catrina cocktail—a combo of tequila, charred grapefruit, cinnamon, lime, simple syrup and egg white.