Three firends drinking green beer in a pub on St. Patrick's. Concept: restaurant marketing.
Timothy Ronaldson
By: timothy-ronaldson
Read in 12 minutes

Restaurant Marketing: Ideas to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Your Restaurant and Bar

If you own a bar or restaurant, you know how important it is to incorporate restaurant marketing ideas to promote your business throughout the year. In addition to Happy Hours and special menus, one of the best ways you can do that is to take advantage of the various holidays.

The next holiday on the calendar that you can take advantage of for restaurant marketing ideas is St. Patrick’s Day. It is celebrated every year on March 17, providing you a great opportunity to capitalize on specials and promotions.

Bars and restaurants are often hopping with patrons on St. Patrick’s Day, and the great part about the holiday is that it can fall on any day of the week. This year, for example, the holiday is on a Tuesday, providing you a potential revenue boost on a day of the week and time of the year when your bar or restaurant might not be filled to the brim.

You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and you don’t have to own an Irish bar or restaurant to take advantage of the restaurant marketing opportunity. It’s a key holiday to take advantage of, too, because it is the highest-grossing single day of the year for bars and restaurants in the U.S.

According to a Nielsen CGA analysis, beer sales increased 174% and spirit sales increased 153% on St. Patrick’s Day in 2018 when compared to an average day. One-third of people who participated in that survey said they visited a bar or restaurant on the holiday that year.

Knowing that St. Patrick’s Day is important for your bar or restaurant and capitalizing on it with great restaurant marketing ideas are two different things, though. Here are some ideas for how you can creatively take advantage of the holiday.

15 Ideas to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Your Restaurant and Bar

There are plenty of ways that you can promote your bar or restaurant for St. Patrick’s Day, and they don’t have to cost you a lot of money. Here are 15 budget-conscious ways to promote your business.

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1. Bring in a band

Patrons have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing where to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. One way you can make your place of business stand out is by hiring a traditional Irish band to play live music.

Live music is likely to be at most establishments, but ensuring that your entertainment is not only talented but also can play to the day’s theme is a great idea. This could be a relatively inexpensive proposition, as well. You might be able to find a good Irish band to play at your venue for only a few hundred dollars.

2. Partner with a local transportation company

There will no doubt be a lot of alcohol served at your establishment on St. Patrick’s Day. As the owner of a bar or restaurant, you have a responsibility to make sure your patrons get home safely as much as you can.

A great way to promote your business and safe drinking is to partner with a local transportation company to offer free rides home from your bar or restaurant. If that isn’t doable — or proves to be too expensive — you could try to partner with Uber or Lyft to provide specific coupon codes. This would place the cost in your patron’s hands, instead of yours, and would give them an extra reason to come to your restaurant.

3. Customize your menu

Even if your bar or restaurant isn’t Irish-themed throughout the year, you could customize your menu to offer some traditional Irish dishes during St. Patrick’s Day — or even throughout the whole week. This would be an inexpensive way to incorporate restaurant marketing for the day.

Simple dishes such as corned beef and cabbage, a corned beef Reuben sandwich and Shepherd’s pie are also easy and relatively cheap to prepare.

4. Have a treasure hunt

The luck of the Irish is a common theme of St. Patrick’s Day. One way you could pay homage to this and provide a fun activity for your guests is to have a treasure hunt.

Hide four-leaf clovers throughout your restaurant, and everyone who finds one can get a free drink. One of the clovers you hide could even be a “jackpot” prize that rewards its finder with a $25 gift certificate. Again, this is a great way to promote your restaurant or bar while not costing you a lot of money.

5. Partner with other local businesses

One way you can institute restaurant marketing on St. Patrick’s Day — or any other holiday, for that matter — is to partner with other local businesses. On this holiday specifically, you could see if the place you’re located would allow you to host a block party.

You could block off a section of the street or a large parking lot and offer food, music, games, and drinks outside. If you partner with other local bars or restaurants, you could all feature small bites of your favorite dishes. This would be a great way to promote the overall business landscape of your location and let you show how great your business is.

6. Offer drink specials

This may seem obvious, but one of the things people are looking for most on St. Patrick’s Day is a great place to get inexpensive drinks. We’re not talking about bottom-of-the-barrel prices for cheap drinks; we’re talking about affordable ways to enjoy the day.

You could put all Irish-themed drinks on special on St. Patrick’s Day. This would include Irish coffees, Guinness beer, and Irish whiskey. Offering drink specials is one of the most effective ways to lure in customers, and it costs you practically nothing.

7. Hold gaming tournaments

Bars and restaurants can become places of overall entertainment on St. Patrick’s Day. One way you can draw more patrons in on this holiday is to offer tournaments for Irish-style games.

This could include a rings tournament or a darts tournament. Not only are these great games for bars or restaurants, but they are Irish-themed as well. You could offer simple and inexpensive prizes such as t-shirts or free drinks to the winners.

8. Hold a costume contest

People love to dress up. While Halloween is the holiday most associated with costumes, people love to dress up in green garb on St. Patrick’s Day. You could use restaurant marketing to hold a costume contest. The patron who’s voted the best dressed for the day could win a prize.

9. Offer a tasting menu

Many people haven’t tried the most traditional Irish spirits before. One way to make it easy for them to do so — and to promote your bar or restaurant — is to offer an Irish tasting menu.

You could go one step further and partner with a local liquor representative who could come and offer a variety of small tastes of Irish whiskey, for example. Again, this won’t cost you much — if anything at all — and is likely to draw in customers.

10. Decorate your restaurant or bar

Celebrating holidays isn’t all about offering special menus and services. Make sure that you deck out your bar or restaurant with green colors and Irish themes. Simple decorations can be purchased at local thrift shops and stores. This won’t cost you much at all, and it’ll go a long way to getting people in the holiday spirit.

11. Don’t stop at one day

The competition for customers on St. Patrick’s Day is fierce. One way to overcome this is to offer specials and your Irish theme for an entire week. This would allow you to not throw all your eggs in one basket, per say, and give people an opportunity to check you out on a day when you’re not packed to the brim.

12. Sales on groups of three

The shamrock is the unofficial symbol of the day. It’s a three-leaf clover, so pander to this theme by offering special discounts for groups of three. Come to the bar with three people, and receive a free drink. Buy two drinks, get one free.

13. Participate in a pub crawl

One popular thing to do on St. Patrick’s Day is to hop from one bar or restaurant to the next. Instead of leaving it in the customers’ hands to decide where to go, partner with other businesses like yours to set up a mapped-out pub crawl. This would not only make it easy for customers but would in a way force them to your business.

14. Create specialty drinks

Theming your drinks to Irish is a great idea, but you could also try to make them all green. Simple food coloring would help — as would integrating spirits that are green in color.

15. Make it all-day

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations aren’t relegated to just the afternoon or evening. One way to use restaurant marketing to your advantage on this day is to open early. You could even offer breakfast specials such as “kegs and eggs,” or alcoholic drinks and egg specials.



Last Words

When you’re in the bar or restaurant business, it’s important to brace all cultures and holidays, as you never know what your customers’ backgrounds are. Doing so is not only a great way to pay homage to different cultures, but it’s fun, too.

By using restaurant marketing on certain holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll also be helping to increase your market share and boost your profits.

Are you looking for other ideas for how you can take advantage of the upcoming holidays?

Keep reading:

Cinco de Mayo Menu and Other Ideas for Your Restaurant

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