Getting the Luck of the Irish at Your Restaurant

It’s the week for St. Patrick’s Day festivities. The holiday falling on a weekend this year offers even more opportunity for restaurants.  And there is nothing more popular on the rowdiest of holidays than for people to go out and celebrate with others. You do not want to miss out on this huge opportunity to get people in your doors. 

Whether you are trying to compete with other local restaurants and just need that “something extra” to win people over, or if you simply feel that St. Paddy’s Day is just not your thing, there is money to be made. Here are a few ways that you can increase your sales:

Offer Freebies

  Everyone loves freebies.These do not have to be elaborate – perhaps green beads, shamrock pins, or green top hats. (your local dollar store has so many options!)  It’s the gesture that counts here – and there are many that will make your customers feel special.

Raffle Off Prizes

For something a little more exciting, you might consider a raffle. Prizes can be as simple as one lucky couple getting dinner on the house, a free round of drinks, or a coupon to return for dinner, along with movie tickets. Consider teaming up with a neighboring business and co-marketing for a win-win situation.  They provide movie tickets, bowling passes, laser tag games, etc., (whatever is close by) in return for you advertising them all week in your online and print St. Patrick’s Day promotions.

Augment Your Menu

St. Paddy’s Day is all about going Irish.  No matter what kind of fare you normally serve up, focus on a few Irish staples to get your guests in the spirit.  And the best part is that most of the traditional Irish foods are surprisingly low cost.  For brunch, serve up a traditional Irish breakfast of Irish bangers, baked eggs, and potato pancakes.  Lunch and dinner options can include corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, and shepherd’s pie. And be sure you have plenty of drinks to wash it all down.  While most will expect green beer to be on hand, don’t forget to stock up on Guinness and Irish whiskey.

Go Upscale

If you believe that St. Patrick’s Day is just about bars, pubs, and green décor, you may be missing out on a huge opportunity.  All types of people like to celebrate this fun holiday. Corn beef and boiled cabbage is not your thing?  Then take it up a notch.  Offer a week-long special of Steak and Guinness Pie, Irish Colcannon (substitute kale for the cabbage to impress even more), Irish Cream Cake, and top things off with an offering of Irish Coffee, or a traditional Grasshopper.  Even the most upscale locations can get in on the fun. Did you know that Ireland is also renowned for its oysters and fresh-baked soda breads? You can also wow your guests by hiring a Celtic instrumentalist (don’t worry, Celtic music is not just bagpipes – it sounds beautiful on a harp, flute or mandolin).

Think Outside the Box  

Many opt to stay at home for this holiday, thinking it’s only for the “younger” or “rowdier” crowds. There’s no reason not to target this audience. Make it a family affair for families with children and no sitter, or for those who opt to stay home.  Offer games to get the guests in the door and make them stay longer.  It’s easy to organize rounds of pin the shamrock on the leprechaun or a scavenger hunt within your space.  This kind of playful attitude may just win you some return customers.

Boost To-Go Sales

Even though St. Patrick’s day is a fun day for some, there are a lot of people who just are not willing to face the crowds, and would rather stay home.  Irish themed take-out is a great way to appeal to this crowd.  Promote themed take out specials throughout your restaurant and online. 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity this fun holiday provides. Leprechauns or not, it is not too late to start promoting your restaurant as the St. Patrick’s Day choice.