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Blog / February 28, 2023

The Restaurant’s Guide to St. Patrick’s Day Promotions

Lenny DeFranco

These days, for most consumers in the US and increasingly across Europe, St. Patrick’s Day has become an excuse for a raucous celebration involving plenty of drinking and merrymaking, especially in cities with a large population of Irish descent. In fact, it’s now celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

More often than not, the holiday falls on a weekday, making it the perfect opportunity to boost mid-week sales with a special restaurant promotion or event. Parades and festivals are often held on the nearest Saturday or Sunday too, helping with an increase in weekend traffic.

This holiday is a great opportunity to attract new customers and foster repeat business — whether at home or on-premise. Read on to discover unique St. Patrick’s Day restaurant promotion ideas to help you drive business.

St. Patrick’s Day Promotion Ideas

We’ve come up with ideas that are a little different from your standard St. Paddy’s event while sticking wholeheartedly to the Irish theme. The aim is to encourage advanced bookings and online orders that help you collect customer information and build new relationships.

St. Paddy’s Drinks and Menu Ideas

Guinness and Other Irish Beers

The Guinness harp is almost as much of a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day as the shamrock. And although this famous export is produced in 50 countries and available in more than 150 worldwide, Guinness is by no means Ireland’s only brew.

There are plenty of alternatives that can provide a fresh option. Something to grab attention that you can include in your event promotions or as part of catering or delivery packages as a unique proposition. Try an alternative such as Murphy’s Stout, Smithwick’s Irish Ale, or Harp Lager.

st patricks day restaurant drink ideas

Irish Whiskeys

Offering a promotion on Irish whiskey is another unique draw. For an upmarket event, why not bring in an expert to host a whiskey tasting. Or you could offer it as an add-on to any online order made on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Pro Tip: Entice your guests to try what’s new to them, for example with an offer to “buy a shot of any Irish Whiskey and get a free Harp Lager”, like at The Wharf in Miami.

Offer Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters

A staple of Dublin’s rowdiest pubs, you can’t beat a fresh oyster dropped into a shot of sharp and tangy Bloody Mary. This is a great upsell on a round of drinks offering an alternative many people won’t have seen before.

Traditional Irish Dishes

Although it is now predominantly seen as a drinking festival, Saint Patrick’s Day was originally about feasting. It’s the perfect excuse to offer a special menu celebrating Irish cuisine for guests who choose to dine with you, or those who choose to eat at home. Irish cooking revolves around traditional hearty fare, using locally abundant ingredients like lamb, beef, shellfish, milk, butter, local veggies and of course, potatoes.

St patricks day restaurant food ideas
  • Homemade potato cakes – a traditional type of potato pancake
  • Irish stew – a hearty slow-cooked stew of beef and potatoes
  • Colcannon – a filling mix of potatoes, leeks, kale, scallions or other greens, brought together with plenty of cream and butter
  • Boiled bacon and cabbage – very traditional dish often served with a creamy parsley sauce
  • Irish soda bread (pictured right) – a traditional loaf made without yeast – just flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk

If you don’t feel a full Irish menu is appropriate for your venue, just take inspiration from the cuisine and add an Irish twist to some of your dishes. For example, switch your freshly made baguette for soda bread, or put a side of potato cakes with your signature meaty main.

Top o’ the Morning

Though St. Paddy’s parades will likely not happen this year, revelers may still want to celebrate with a boozy brunch. In any case, a breakfast or brunch promotion is a great way to take advantage and fill tables before your typical peak rush.

A traditional Irish breakfast is similar to a full English. A fried feast of back bacon, sausages, blood pudding, beans, potato cakes, mushrooms and tomatoes, served with slices of soda bread.

Offer Irish Food with a Modern Twist 

If a more modern approach is appropriate for your restaurant, take inspiration from the top Irish chefs, like JP McMahon, Claire Smyth, and Anna Haugh, who are exporting the cuisine to the world. Modern Irish food is a celebration of the excellent ingredients grown in the island’s fertile soil. Create a modern Irish menu highlighting the best local produce in your area.

St Paddy’s Events and Experience Ideas

Host a Virtual Irish Music Celebration

Irish pubs are famous for having a lively atmosphere and nightly live music. With an increased appetite for in-person events, consider hiring a local Irish band to provide entertainment for your guests. Promote the event on your social media channels, or send invitations with food deliveries during the lead-up, to meet those guests who usually stay at home.

Run an Irish Lottery Contest

Embrace the idea of the ‘luck of the Irish’ with a lottery game or raffle where guests buy tickets for the chance to win prizes. Ask local businesses to sponsor the contest or donate prizes, and you’ll benefit from the extra boost from your joint marketing efforts. Plus, this is an easy way to boost your revenue with a little extra gravy. Your loyal customers will be happy to support your business, and you’ll be able to offer fun prizes that make people return to your restaurant in the near future.

Create Menus & Packages for Online Ordering

St. Patrick’s Day might usually be filled with in-person celebrations and revelry, but this year some of your guests will be eager to celebrate at home. When you’re creating St. Paddy’s day menus for your venue, don’t forget about creating items and catering packages for your off-premise diners. Every holiday has unique menu items that guests want to eat, and St. Paddy’s Day is no exception. The good news? Irish food is incredibly hearty, and will hold up well in takeaway containers!

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Pro Tip: Bring forward the celebration for deliveries by making them available well before March 17th. Then, make sure to target those who ordered themed items with an invitation or discounted ticket to your event.

Come up with creative package names like ‘Luck of the Irish’, ‘Taste the Rainbow’ or even simply ‘St. Patrick’s Day Specials’ that offer seasonal food and drinks for your at-home diners. Adding large do-it-yourself meal kits or beverage bundles to your takeout menu can help you boost profits on holidays where guests don’t want to do the cooking.

St. Patrick’s Day Restaurant Inspirations

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you don’t need to reinvent the Shepherd’s Pie. Looking for ways to ensure March 17th is a ‘craic’ for your guests? 

Take a peak at what some of our clients are doing for their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. 

The HighLine Bar in Chicago

The HighLine Bar in Chicago hosts a traditional Irish breakfast buffet and a pipe band that would make any leprechaun want to party into the wee hours.

highline restaurant St patricks day promotion idea

Benchmark in Chicago

By providing a comprehensive package, The Benchmark in Chicago draws in crowds with its drinks, a buffet and a corned beef sandwich station. 

benchmark restaurant St patricks day promotion idea

Gaslight Bar

Gaslight Bar is serving up some green brews, a brunch buffet and DJ to keep guests celebrating all day long.

gaslight bar restaurant St patricks promotion idea

Some More Fun Ideas

  • The Carousel Club at Gulfstream Park hosts an event focused on the enchantment of the day with drinks specials, including a ‘Magic Hour Special’ on beers.
  • The Grand Cafe in Southampton combines St. Paddy’s celebrations with horse racing for the Gold Cup (get it?). The ticketed event is even part of a combo offer when combined with their ‘Champion Hurdle’ event, using the lucky charms of the day to bolster another. 
  • At The Rockaway Hotel, guests will be able to browse the Irish Village of vendors and celebrate with live music at a ticketed event.

How to Market Your St. Paddy’s Day Promotion

Enable Reservation Upgrades in the Online Booking Process

Increase your revenue per customer in advance by offering upgrades during the online reservation process. This simple addition to the booking widget is unintrusive to your guests but could be an easy win in terms of adding revenue to bookings.

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FYI: Upgrades and upsells don’t just benefit your bottom line when you make them part of your reservation process. They also help your team plan in advance and execute highly personalized service.

Drive Traffic from Your Social Media Channels

The fun and colorful nature of St. Patrick’s Day makes it a prime candidate for an Instagram or Facebook campaign. Here you can be playful with guests and show them, with vibrant imagery and snappy captions, how much fun they could have at your restaurant or when they order a takeaway package for home.

You can easily add a ‘Book a Table’ or ‘Order Food’ button to your social media profiles in order to make the most of your traffic and engagement on social media. Drive traffic directly to your booking widget or online ordering page, helping you to track the results of the campaign and eliminate commissions and fees.

Run a Personalized Email Campaign to Drive Bookings & Online Orders

Use the customer data that you already have to segment your audience for a laser-focused email marketing approach. Improve your open and conversion rates by only sending your St. Paddy’s Day promotion emails to the people most likely to be interested. For example, those who are bigger drinkers, loyal customers who attend similar events, frequently online orderers, or your best reviewers.

Make the Most of St. Patrick’s Day With a Data-Driven Campaign

Even if your restaurant or bar has no specific connection to the Emerald Isle, St. Patrick’s Day is a giant opportunity to attract new customers and improve loyalty using guest data in a targeted way.

Using a smart system to directly manage bookings and online orders, collect customer data, send personalized marketing promotions, and manage customer relationships all lead to one place – improved customer experience and loyalty. To learn more about SevenRooms, book a demo today.

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