In March, as the trees begin to turn green, bars are following suit by going green for St. Patrick’s Day. What was once a single day to celebrate Irish heritage has become a month of festivities at bars, restaurants, and city centers.
125 million people are expected to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, which has bars and restaurants seeing green in more ways than one. Restaurants can follow these 3 tips to find their very own pot o’ gold this St. Patrick’s Day.
1. Go Green – Literally
Green wasn’t always the color associated with St. Patrick’s Day, but we’ve gone shamrock-crazy in the last few decades. Some bars roll out green decor and drink specials as early as March 1st to start attracting revelers. Let your staff accessorize their uniforms with some green for the occasion!
If your restaurant serves alcohol, make sure they’re stocked with green beer, specialty green cocktails, and plenty of support staff for the rush of patrons who’ll be ordering drinks. St. Patrick’s Day is one of the busiest bar holidays of the year – in 2016, 6.5 million people planned to drink Guinness while celebrating. Irish Coffee, Irish Car Bomb cocktails, and Irish whiskey will be flying off the shelves, so make sure your inventory is stocked. You can also score points by having cabs or rideshare information on hand for guests who need a safe ride home.
If your restaurant doesn’t serve liquor, there are plenty of other foods that can get guests into the St. Patty’s day spirit. Traditional Irish fare includes corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and Irish soda bread. Guests continue to gobble up classic dishes, as well as modern twists. Boston, where the St. Patrick’s Day Parade originated, has plenty of restaurants serving up St. Patrick’s Day dishes if your restaurant needs some authentic inspiration.
2. Something Fishy’s Going On
Once every seven years or so, March 17th falls on a Friday. 2017 is one of those years. For devout Catholics, this might be a conflict of interest. The church celebrates St. Patrick as an important religious figure – but Catholics are also supposed to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. This year, many American bishops have issued special dispensation for members of their diocese to eat meat to celebrate Friday, March 17th, 2017. Many people travel for the holiday, however, so even if the bishop in your area has allowed the consumption of meat, some of your guests might be from a stricter diocese. Make sure you offer traditional Lenten seafood options to ensure your menu offers something for everyone.
3. March Ahead
St. Patty’s Day parades have been an American tradition since 1737. The parade actually began in Boston, and found its way to Ireland years later as a means to boost tourism. This is a great day for people to travel to big cities like Chicago, which is famous for dyeing the Chicago River green for the holiday. If your business is located in a metropolitan area, you’ll be surrounded by people who don’t know their way around, and are looking for delicious ways to celebrate.
Send a food truck or a runner to the parade near you. You can sell food directly, or pass out flyers inviting marchers to continue the festivities at your nearest location. Try implementing a quick and easy loyalty program for new customers, like 50% off their first drink if they bring in a voucher.
One survey found that 28.7% of respondents planned to attend a party at a bar or restaurant to celebrate St. Pat’s in 2016. However, 56.5% of the same group would purchase food or beverages. Online ordering is more important than ever. Make sure you’re easy to find online, even for the most inebriated guests. It’s important to hire enough staff to answer phone calls, and enough drivers to keep everyone well-fed.
St. Patrick’s Day is holiday that brings plenty of green. $4.4 billion was spent on this holiday in 2016, and that total is expected to rise in 2017. Make sure your restaurant is shamrockin’ so guests come a-knockin’!