St. Patrick’s Day is usually one of the busiest and highest grossing days of the year for bars and restaurants. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still present across the U.S., restaurant owners will need to get creative when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this year. Whether your restaurant is open for limited-capacity indoor dining or only offering takeout/delivery, these innovative tactics can help to generate brand awareness and revenue for your business on St. Patrick’s Day. From reimagining outdoor space and offering live entertainment to themed menu options and take-home meal kits, there’s a multitude of ways that businesses can rethink this highly lucrative holiday in 2021.
Rethink your outdoor space
If your restaurant boasts an outdoor patio, rooftop, or sidewalk seating, consider retooling this precious space for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. This may include renting tents, heaters, or firepits along with featuring on-theme decorations—think shamrocks, green, and gold galore. Adhering to state and local guidelines surrounding coronavirus and outdoor dining regulations, you can offer ticketed timeslots that people can sign up for on your website. Place a limit on party size and how long patrons are able to reserve a table for to allow the maximum amount of people possible to enjoy your event. By having predetermined reservations and time limits in place, guests will understand the expectations and feel safer knowing that your restaurant is following social distancing protocols. If your restaurant is located in a cooler climate, consider referencing our blog, “How to prepare for outdoor dining during cooler weather,” to gather more tips and tricks for creating a warm and inviting outdoor space.
Supersize the entertainment
As one of the most popular bar and restaurant holidays, no St. Patrick’s Day celebration would be complete without killer entertainment. Look into booking a local Irish band or Irish dancers that can perform at preset times either inside your restaurant if indoor dining is an option or in your outdoor space. Don’t worry if live entertainment isn’t viable this year for your business, there are plenty of Irish bands such as Dropkick Murphys, an American Celtic punk band, and Thin Lizzy, a hard rock band formed in Dublin, that are crowd favorites this time of year.
Socially distanced yard games are a great idea if you have the capacity in your outdoor dining area. Bags/cornhole, shuffleboard, horseshoes, and bocce ball are all excellent options that can help keep your guests entertained for hours and spark curiosity in people walking by your spot. St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that’s brimming with fun facts and trivia. For instance, did you know Chicago uses 60 pounds of green dye to turn its river green each St. Patrick’s Day? Hosting a themed trivia contest may be just the edge you need to entice local residents to book a table at your restaurant this year. You can even take this a step further by allowing virtual guests to participate in the game, increasing your revenue and brand exposure.
Curate a limited menu
St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that’s synonymous with festive food and drinks. Delegate a portion of your outdoor space to be a beer tasting area, featuring a variety of Irish beers, spirits, and cocktails. Retool your drink menu to include popular Irish drinks such as Guinness, Baileys Irish Cream, Irish coffee, and Magners Irish Cider as well as tasting flights. Consider offering these beverages in branded souvenir glasses—a savvy marketing tactic. Shareable comfort food reigns supreme on St. Patrick’s Day. Work with your chef to add Irish-inspired items to your restaurant’s menu like bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage sliders, shepherd’s pie, Irish stew, and soda bread. When planning your menu aim to choose items that have ingredient crossover to save on cost and reduce food waste.
Offer take-home kits
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the many effective creative ideas implemented by restaurant owners across the county. One such strategy that has seen success is take-home meal kits and drink kits. A perfect solution for people who are not quite comfortable dining out yet, assemble to-go St. Patrick’s Day kits that allow customers to enjoy your restaurant’s menu from the comfort of their own home. You can include Irish meal staples like the ones we previously listed as premade, ready-to-eat dishes or opt to include the portioned ingredients so friends and families can cook together. It’s also a great idea to add your own twist on Irish-inspired sweets such as apple cake, Baileys brownies, shortbread, and soda bread pudding, in your takeout meal kits. St. Patrick’s Day is known for its fun drinks and cocktails. This holiday test out selling to-go drink kits that include all of the fixings for popular St. Patrick’s Day cocktails like Irish coffee, Old Fashioned, and Guinness floats.
Share on social
Spread the word about your St. Patrick’s Day options on your website and social media pages. Include a link to book reservations and/or to reserve a timeslot at your restaurant’s outdoor dining space. Consistently post about your St. Patrick Day offerings about a month before the day to give people enough time to plan and to stay on their radar. Feature mouthwatering photography of your Irish food and drink limited menu items. Also, be sure to promote your to-go holiday meal kit and drink kit options with a link to the ordering page. Sprinkle in fun St. Patrick’s Day trivia throughout the month to keep your followers engaged and consider posting polls for people to take that can lead to valuable insights for your business. Simply put, it’s important to let your audience know exactly how they can safely celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your restaurant this year, even though it may look a bit different than years past.
Be sure to regularly visit our free resource section dedicated to advising restaurants on how to navigate the changing rules and regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic.