Irish or not, millions of people from dozens of cities around the United Sates look forward to parades, parties, and rivers dyed green in honor of Saint Patrick each year. The tradition has come a long way since it was first brought to the states by Irish immigrants back in the 19th century. In the US today, it’s more of a celebration of Irish Pride—and a huge one at that; more people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the United States than there are people in Ireland! As you might have guessed, restaurants and bars benefit hugely as a result.
For the restaurant industry, the timing of St. Patrick’s Day is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s the boost in sales many have been looking for after weeks of slow nights following the holidays and winter snow storms. With a little planning, lots of hyping on social media, and a bit of Irish luck, March 17th has the potential to be a great success for your business.
Get In On the Action
Is there a parade or festival happening in your town or somewhere nearby? Events like these are wonderful for the community, but do have the potential to prevent people from visiting you. Think about setting up a food truck/stand in a prime location, so that you can reach your customers even if they’re not physically in your establishment. The chances are pretty great that you’ll attract some new customers this way too! If you don’t sell food, then coffee, hot chocolate, or your branded apparel will all work too.
Feature Traditional Irish Foods
In many parts of the country, this is the only time of year that true Irish fare is offered in restaurants. Whether you’re Irish or not, there’s a good chance you’ll go for the Corned Beef & Cabbage over the ordinary cheeseburger on St. Patrick’s Day. Consider adding Shepherd’s Pie, Irish Soda Bread, Potato Soup, and other well sought-after items to your menu for the week. If your business has a specialty or a best seller, fusing your own creative take with a classic is a great idea also. Ice cream shops, start testing out your Irish Coffee Ice Cream!
Does your establishment already serve an Irish specialty regularly? We see a great opportunity to partner with another local business here. Having another business feature your dish is an excellent way to gain more exposure—especially if it’s advertised on their social media as well. In return, you can serve their signature cocktail or famous dessert.
Get Creative with Your Specials & Events
There will most likely be a lot of options for places to go within your community, so making your business stand out is key. The possibilities are endless for promotional ideas, but keep your audience in mind when planning. Depending on your type of establishment, consider the ideas below:
- Irish themed trivia or karaoke night
- Whiskey tasting
- Costume contest
- Live Irish music
- Sponsor events such as free meals for designated drivers and free services to arrange rides for people under the influence
- Plan a bar crawl with businesses next to yours or nearby
Remember, offering a discount or giving something away is not a loss. Think about promotions or deals you can implement that will keep customers thinking of you long after St. Patrick’s Day is over. For example, consider a “Luck of the Irish” promo, in which customers are randomly chosen to receive a gift card or discount towards their next visit. You can also offer a discount on the purchase of three items or run a buy-two-get-the-third-free promotion as per the three leaves of a shamrock.
Last but not least, all great celebrations need decorations. You don’t have to go too crazy; think gold and green balloons, or green-decorated menus or inserts for your specials. If you can’t decorate the space you have, use your food and drinks! Try a fun twist on whiskey by making it green with lime and ginger ale, or maybe offer a special cucumber martini with mint, or honeydew martini with vodka, Midori and triple sec. If you don’t serve alcohol, then try something like green desserts, bagels, or muffins.
However you choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at your establishment, don’t forget to use social media and email marketing to get the word out. In a world where face-to-face interactions are becoming few and far between, online outlets are your best bet for reaching the most people. Today’s technology makes it easy to market to your guests, but don’t let this be what stops you if you struggle—get in touch with us for help, and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter or follow this blog for more tips and ideas to come.