This article was written by Jenny Simmons and featured in Fast Casual.
The Cincinnati Bengals are set to play the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 13, 2022, in the most anticipated football game of the year. While all Americans were confident that professional sports would make a comeback after being temporarily muted by COVID-19, many restaurants are still dealing with low traffic, supply chain issues, staffing shortages and the inability to acutely forecast sales
Ahead of the big game, get your team ready to perform like champions despite the pandemic-created obstacles. Here’s how:
1. Tailor your game day menu. Sporting event menus are dominated by fan favorites. With the surge in inflation due to the pandemic, profit margins can be greatly affected. To offset the loss in revenue, either print temporary menus with increased prices or experiment with low costs, higher-margin specials such as nachos, chili, or pizza to offset the revenue. Be sure to order extra inventory of the most popular game day favorites so that you do not risk running out. Extras can be used for specials in the week following the game to be sure they do not go to waste.
2. Offer a special tasting menu or appetizer buffet. Guests may not want to partake in a heavy meal, especially if they’re going to be parked in your restaurant for up to four hours. Instead, offer small tasting plates, tapas-style selections, or even a self-serve appetizer buffet. The variety will keep guests happy, plus there will be minimal delay in foodservice should your kitchen or wait staff get into the weeds.
3. Consider beer buckets. Beer and sports go hand-in-hand. Knowing that it will be one of your top sellers, consider incorporating large, iced beer buckets where transactions are limited walk-up guests paying with cash or by credit card swiped by a handheld reader. Beer buckets are ideal to expedite orders and free up your servers’ time, especially if you predict that you will be understaffed. Also, make sure these are located away from tight areas that may become too congested.
4. Cater to the stay-at-home crowd. Not everyone wants to go out for the big event, especially with COVID-19 still lingering. But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn the home crowd into customers. Offer catering specials for full meals, tailgate boxes, or even take-home-and-heat appetizers for those who plan to host their own get-togethers. Consider setting up a special prep area to make the carry-out process as efficient as possible so as not to interfere with your in-house guest experience.
5. Go family-friendly. The super bowl is often associated with an afternoon of bar food and adult beverages, but families are often included in the big day as well. Have coloring pages, games, and perhaps even a screen showing the Puppy Bowl available for those with their children in tow.
6. Promote return visits. The Super Bowl is a great opportunity to encourage repeat business. Once you’ve brought them through the door for a special event, keep them coming back by presenting coupons for discounts for future visits. Capitalize on the social media frenzy by offering special deals to customers who share their photos, tagging your establishment, or using a special hashtag.
7. Stay in contact. Hosting a giveaway is a great way to get email addresses so that you can stay in contact year-round. Based on your budget, it can be something as simple as a free dinner or as extravagant as a flat-screen TV. Create entry cards that require their name and email address at the very least, then be sure to send them information regarding events, specials, menu changes, etc. to keep your restaurant top of mind when they are planning their next evening out.
Whether you are a football fan or not, the boost in sales that the Super Bowl can bring cannot be ignored. Taking the time now to prepare your facility and staff to work the best they can amid the pandemic-related complications our industry is facing will definitely score points with your guests.