By Elizabeth Riggio
Celebrated annually on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day began as an ode to the patron saint of Ireland. Over time, St. Patrick’s Day has become a widely celebrated day when people gather with family and friends and revel in Irish culture. It has also grown into one of the year’s biggest holidays for restaurants and bars.
This St. Patrick’s Day will look different due to COVID-19, but restaurants can still bring the energy of the holiday to customers. Here are nine ideas for generating excitement and promoting your business on St. Paddy’s Day.
Plan a St. Patrick’s Day meal. Develop a menu that incorporates modern or traditional Irish foods into your regular fare, including your pizzas. This could be a couple of specialty pizzas and/or sandwiches featuring corned beef and cabbage or a shamrock-shaped pie with green side items. The always-cheeky Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Williamsburg, New York, once created a pizza topped with Lucky Charms cereal served with a raw potato and a bottle of Guinness beer. You can even start the day with an Irish breakfast or offer a lunch and dinner menu that hosts your take on favorites like Irish stew, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, colcannon, and Irish soda bread. To help bolster off-premise sales, offer Irish beer and cocktails to-go in addition to the food menu.
Get festive with a themed menu design. Design a menu that reflects the holiday. This will help mark the day and add to the overall excitement. And no need to spend too much time designing your own menu or paying someone else to do it; many online design companies offer menu templates with holiday themes so the hard work of designing is taken care of. All that’s left to do is to customize it so it reflects your restaurant’s brand and style. To build a buzz, put the menu up in the restaurant window ahead of time or link it to a QR code as a PDF for customers to view from their phone. Post the menu to Facebook or Instagram or add it as a link in the bio.
Capture the energy of the day through takeout packaging. Help pump up the festive spirit with your takeout packaging. Add themed notes, pot-of-gold stickers, takeout boxes with four-leaf clovers or green confetti to bring an element of St. Paddy’s to customers’ homes.
Bring in more green with a promotion. Encourage new business and reward regulars by coming up with a deal or discount for everyone to enjoy. Finding ways to be creative with the type of deal offered will make restaurants stand out from the crowd. Here are some ideas:
- 17% off if customers wear green to pick up their order
- Beer and meal combo deal
- Family meal deal
- 17th order of the day gets a free meal
- Beer or whiskey sampler package
- Team up with local businesses to offer a package deal
- Encourage customers to upload a photo of their meal and tag the restaurant on social media, then enter them into a raffle
- Meal kit that includes St. Paddy’s Day food, decor, etc.
- Kids’ holiday-themed coloring page or other craft to include with orders
- Add something green to every order
- Send out an email survey and enter participants in a raffle to win merch.
Extend the fun. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day all week long! This year the holiday lands on a Wednesday, which is great for boosting mid-week sales while also allowing the opportunity for celebration past just the day of. Consider offering deals or specials for the weekends surrounding the holiday or the entire week. Featuring your menu for more than a single day is a great way to reach more customers and give people a chance to participate even if they can’t eat out on the actual day.
Set up virtual events that bring the party home. Wish you could host an event? Go virtual! Many customers will be missing the chance to get together on St. Patrick’s Day, so find ways to connect with them from a distance through a virtual event. An interactive activity from home is easy to set up with most video conferencing services. Some ideas include:
- Cooking class: Have your chef demonstrate making a classic Irish dish or drink. Customers can order the ingredients they need from your restaurant ahead of time, then join the class from their kitchen.
- Trivia night: Invite a historian to join and share facts about the holiday and history.
- Whiskey tasting: Offer different types of Irish whiskeys to taste. Customers can order ahead of time, then invite a whiskey sommelier to video in and speak about each type provided.
- Live stream a band: Invite a local Irish band to team up with your restaurant for a virtual dinner and show. This can be set up as a package deal with the show, meal and band’s merchandise included as options for pre-order.
Employ traditional marketing tools. Restaurants and bars won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to highlight the fun things they’re up to for the holiday. Promote them via traditional marketing methods, such as putting up restaurant flyers in your windows or menu boards along the sidewalk to inform the neighborhood and anyone passing by.
Make your celebration mobile-friendly. These days, customers expect your restaurant’s marketing to be mobile-friendly. With new digital marketing tools, you can put everything a customer needs right in the palm of their hand. Update your website or online menu and link to your holiday menus, beer lists, discounts or social media via QR codes.
Use social media for further engagement. Social media platforms are great places for customers to quickly learn all that’s happening at your pizzeria for the holiday, but they’re also a great starting point for engagement in the future. If possible, hit multiple channels to get the word out. Some ideas include:
- Email: Send recipe ideas for holiday food and drink, updates about your specials and deals, links to virtual events
- Instagram or Facebook: Feature giveaways, raffles, menu updates or hours
Going the extra mile to make St. Patrick’s Day special at your pizzeria is a great way to get the community excited for the holiday and continue to build relationships with new and returning customers.