Everyone knows the best part about gameday is tailgating. Whether you've got tickets to the stadium and you're grilling burgers in the parking lot or kicked back and watching on the big screen, great food and drink are almost as essential as the ball and field.
How can your establishment tap into this beloved tradition for the big game? By not only catering to those bellying up to your bar but to those headed to the game as well. Explore these quality tips to get sports fans pre-gaming with you.
For those who want to focus on the fun and not the meal prep, put together a package that fans can buy from you ahead of time and heat up at the game. Your own packs of pre-cooked seasoned brats, dogs, or burgers will entice those who want to be the grill master but not necessarily a sous chef. Offer your own house-made relishes and condiments, fresh-baked buns, and other accoutrements, so the only stop they need to make to fill up their cooler is with you.
For the groups who don't want to haul a grill or take time to cook at home and just want to chow down — offer family-style to-go meals that can be pre-ordered online to serve groups anywhere from 5 people to 20 (or whatever your kitchen allows!). Think easy handhelds and shareables like baskets of wings, trays of sliders, or chicken fingers. Include homemade dips and sauces and offer some options for sides to choose from besides fries, which could get soggy on the way: tortilla chips and guac, pasta salad, baked beans, even corn on the cob are all great tailgate options.
B. Y. O. Bar
If your place sells tap beer, consider a growler (or crowler!) fill as an easy add-on to the meal package. Consider batched cocktails to go, too, as long as it's legal in your area. Many states introduced bills allowing cocktails to-go as part of COVID relief. They cannot be made until someone places an order, so take pre-orders online and serve accordingly in sealed, marked containers. Make your own signature Bloody Mary mix for example to sell alongside the spirit of choice and an array of packaged garnishes. Or make an iced tea lemonade concoction for a perfect early fall sipper.
Score with Branding
Take advantage of all of this off-premise exposure by including branded servingware with your meal kits and to-go orders. Stickered cups, printed napkins, and paper plates all sporting your logo will make sure everyone at the tailgate knows where all the good stuff came from.
Get creative with branding while thinking of tailgate season too — what can you include in your kits that would be fun for the party besides just eats? Printed can koozies or beads with home team colors and your logo as an emblem would be an extra special touch that could be included as an upgraded package.
Whose House? In-House!
Not everyone wants to go to the game — a lot of people are happy as can be seated at their favorite table or barstool cheering at the big screen. Entice fans with their own "sports cave" set up at a designated area of your establishment, like a patio or side room. Set up a jumbo screen and offer limited seating and specials throughout gameday.
One idea is to have fans buy a ticket that gets them all-access to seating and a buffet of game food like nachos, meatballs, and wings bar. Designate drink specials as well: buckets of beer for a group, freebies when the home team scores, or a pitcher and pizza deal.
Also, sports-centric LTOs are a great idea to rotate throughout the menu during the whole season. Come up with creative specials like serving up traditional food items from each team's home state. Packers vs. Bears? Put fried cheese curds and Chicago-style hot dogs on the menu (no ketchup, please!)