It’s one of America’s most sacred rituals: consuming your own body weight in beer, wings, and pizza over a six to eight hour period on Super Bowl Sunday.
Nearly 100 million people, or two-thirds of the American population, watched the game last year. Traditionally, restaurants see lower overall sales for the big game as most people opt to cook at home and stay close to the TV screen. But you can offer an assist to your guests by providing to-go deals on their favorite Super Bowl snacks.
8 Super Bowl Restaurant Promotion Ideas
1. Offer a Super Bowl Discount
The Super Bowl presents a huge potential opportunity, but it’s one that everyone is competing for. Offer discounts for those who preorder from you to capture them early and lock in their business.
2. Tailor Your Super Bowl Menu to the Teams Playing
For example, if the New England Patriots were playing, you’d want to offer special menu items such as clam chowder, lobster rolls, or Boston baked beans. (We also know New Englanders are big fans of their local Sam Adams beer as well.) For the Philadelphia Eagles, you could serve Philly Cheese Steaks, soft pretzels, and hoagies. If you’re local, offering such dishes is an expression of regional pride, and if you’re not, it’s something enticingly exotic.
3. Create a Super Bowl Giveaway
If there’s anything Americans love more than football, it’s free stuff. Even if their team isn’t playing in the big game, you can still give them a chance to win. Throughout the game, announce winners for giveaways and get your customers even more riled up. For example, each quarter you can give out a gift card to diners who filled out a free raffle ticket. If you’re not serving dine-in guests this year, take the contest over to your social media accounts.
4. Go Long On Social Media Marketing
Social media is a cheap and effective tool for restaurant marketing. Ensure all your profiles are up to date, are keyword optimized for “Super Bowl,” and consider offering specials on Yelp, GrubHub, OpenTable, and the like. Post a poll to your customers to see who they think will win, tell them to tag a friend they’re going to watch a game with, or feature your TV set-up and appetizers on your story to catch their attention.
5. Email Your Fan Base
Don’t forget to blast your email database—email marketing remains an effective marketing tool for small businesses. Don’t leave this until the last minute; make sure you’re getting the message out a month in advance. Send a redeemable coupon to your customers’ inbox, and you’ll have them hooked.
6. Online Ordering, Catering, and Delivery
Restaurant and bar owners have become very familiar with takeout and online ordering this past year, and they are important tools to have on hand as you help guests host safe, at-home Super Bowl celebrations.
Still dishing out 20-30% to third party online ordering sites? Keep that cash in your pocket with Upserve Online Ordering.
7. Super Bowl Bar Specials
Some folks love the Super Bowl for the game, some watch the event for the funny commercials and the halftime show, and others are just looking for an excuse to drink on a Sunday. Design all you can eat and/or drink specials, special menus, and see if you can get your liquor or beer vendors to sponsor the cost of a TV to giveaway. Alternatively, you could offer a free appetizer for tables that order a meal and drink. Nothing gets a football fan’s mouth-watering like some 50 cent wings! If people already decided they’re going to a bar for the Super Bowl, specials can help increase their check average.
8. Don’t Forget The Non-Sports Fans
You can guarantee that plenty of people will be dragged into watching the game by their significant others or friends. You’ll want to have most of your TVs turned on to the game, but be sure to have at least one or two on the other big game… the Puppy Bowl.
Fan Favorites: Super Bowl Sunday’s Most Popular Menu Items
A survey taken by DoorDash found that 93% of respondents planned to watch the Super Bowl at home this year, with 48% saying they plan to order takeout on game day. While many people will opt to make some classic football snacks at home (think nachos, which notoriously don’t travel well), Upserve by Lightspeed identified the most commonly ordered food and beverage items from our over 7,000 customers in each region to help restaurant and bar owners decide what specials they want to run this Super Bowl Sunday.
When it comes to takeout food, sandwiches, pizza, and fried chicken make the top three in each region. Salads, burgers, and soup round out the lists for the West, South, and Midwest, with noticeable differences in the Northeast; it’s the only region where most people are opting for desserts and ordering larger amounts of bread and pre-made dough.
Soft drinks and beer are the top two most ordered to-go beverages on Super Bowl Sunday across the board. Wine and cocktails also make each of the top 5 lists, but it looks like in every region people are wanting cocktails made with different types of alcohol.
Super Bowl Restaurant Ideas from Industry Experts
We asked some restaurant pros how they handle Super Bowl Sunday in their restaurants. They told us some tips and tricks on how to attract guests on a day with stiff competition between bars and restaurants.
Note: These tips were collected pre-pandemic and some suggest large-scale events and group activities that may not be appropriate for 2021. We chose to leave them in here as they could spark another idea for your business, but Upserve by Lightspeed recommends following all COVID-19 safety precautions.
How Do You Stand Out on Super Bowl Sunday?
Drew French, founder of national pizzeria Your Pie: “A great way for restaurants to stand out on this day is to offer a service that provides a benefit for customers. Usually, customers are either short on time to make food or simply don’t want to go through the process of making food for their guests on this day. By providing a special food delivery service, or bundle offer on take-out food, restaurants can stand out amongst their competition.”
Matthew Piekarski, executive chef of Las Vegas rooftop bar and grill Beer Park: “A restaurant can stand out by creating a memorable experience for its guests. We use our outdoor venue to create an experience that feels like you’re watching the game with your friends in a park or casual environment, and then elevate that experience by providing classic tailgate fare, a huge beer selection and activities and games–perfect for groups.”
How Do You Host a Successful Super Bowl Sunday?
Candice Simons, owner of Detroit Mexican restaurant Alley Taco: “Our three-part secret formula to successful events is to promote, decorate, and accommodate. Promoting your event in advance, on social media, is key. Create a Facebook event for the occasion detailing restaurant hours and specials. Tell them how many hi-def TVs you have. You have to convey that watching the game in your restaurant will be a better experience than watching at home. Decorate the restaurant to draw guests into the experience and make the restaurant feel like a party. Accommodate large parties by offering group packages that will make planning hassle-free for your guests.”
Drew French: “Inside the restaurant, the focus should be on bringing groups together. Games that allow friends and family to compete against one another and having special areas for people to watch the game as a group are key elements to hosting a successful Super Bowl Sunday.”
David Doyle, regional director of the multi-location Massachusetts-based Tony C’s Sports Bar & Grill: “Prior to a major sporting event like the Super Bowl, where your restaurant may be expecting a high volume of patrons throughout the day and night, it’s vital to ensure that you are stocked with enough food and beverages so as not to ever run out, especially of the ‘fan favorite’ items.”
What Lessons Have You Learned From Hosting The Super Bowl at Your Restaurant in the Past?
Drew French: “The best advice I can give to a restaurant on Super Bowl Sunday is to think about what kinds of struggles a customer may face on this day and then work to provide a solution. Families may struggle to find family-friendly places to take their children to eat, or groups of friends may struggle to find affordable and delicious food for everyone to enjoy. Think about how you can help make the day enjoyable for your local community and you’ll create customers for life.”
Candice Simons: “Depending on where you are located and how long you have been open, I would make sure advertising is done via social media and local media outlets to announce game day specials. Social media is an effective, easy and inexpensive way to reach your audience with promotional specials.”
Stephen Zagor: “My advice to maintain revenue would be to create take-out and delivery options. It is easy to be a dud on this day and put a lot of effort into developing a marketing plan, menu, program planning, etc. You need to know your customers and understand that you can’t get a new market for a night.”
Matthew Piekarski: “With football and sporting events, in general, we really try to remain neutral as a restaurant and never pick sides on a team we’re rooting for. My best advice for a new restaurant owner would be to stick with the classics and don’t venture too far outside of what the expectation of the event is. Super Bowl is a universal experience and it’s important to give people what they want – Super Bowl staples always include beer, wings, and pizza.”
David Doyle: “Don’t run out of anything, don’t take reservations, and instruct your host or hostess not to seat incomplete tables. Don’t overdo it! People are there to watch the game and enjoy their experience so keep it simple, appetizing and fun. You don’t necessarily need to create menu specials for the Super Bowl to attract guests, but ensure that your wait staff is highlighting the most popular menu items when approaching tables.“
The restaurateurs know better than anyone, Super Bowl Sunday is going to be busy for any restaurant or bar. To make sure your operation runs smoothly and keeps your customers and staff happy, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the best restaurant POS in the game.