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For many sports fans, fall is the coveted season because with it comes football. Whether professional or college, football brings big crowds to stadiums and inspires sports fans into bars and restaurants all weekend long.

Whether you’re a sports bar or a regular restaurant looking to capitalize on the fanatics that come with the sport, here’s how you can craft the restaurant specials for football season.

It’s official. According to a poll from The Harris Poll, football is still America’s favorite sport. In a survey from 2016, football was awarded the title of favorite by 34 percent of adults who watch at least one professional sport. Baseball was the second place finisher with 16 percent reporting it’s their favorite sport. Even if you’re originally from across the pond and it kills you to call American football just “football,” you’re only hurting yourself and your restaurant if you don’t make the most of the tight bond between football season and watching games in bars and restaurants.

In a survey from 2016, football was awarded the title of favorite by 34 percent of adults who watch at least one professional sport.


So how can you take advantage of football’s popularity and boost your sales during the season? Here are a few examples of restaurants and bars offering specials and incentives to visit their establishment instead of tailgating on those Sunday afternoons between September and February.

beer cheers sports bar

Enact a Football Season Tradition

Whether you’re a bar that’s dedicated to one team in particular, decking your walls with memorabilia galore and never missing a chance to show a game, or you’re a more general spot that caters to every crowd, the more you can become known as the one place in town that always does x, y, or z, the easier it will be to get new guests in the door the best way possible: through word of mouth. Consider having a bracket each season or whipping out a major big screen for the Super Bowl every year. The one thing that can make you stand out among the crowd of other bars and restaurants vying for the football crowd is your crew of regulars that have fallen in love with your football traditions and refuse to go anywhere else.

Devise Some Football Food Specials

What do you think of when you consider going out to watch a football game? Some of the standard food groups that come to mind are pizza, wings, and nachos.

Ferrara’s Kitchen & Bar in Boston serves a variety of wings, including buffalo, sweet soy, and BBQ at a discounted price of 25 cents per wing on game days. They share this information on Facebook, as you can see in the post below during last year’s NFL season. In my neighborhood, you’d be hard to find a bar without something-cent wings during game time, and it’s rare to find an empty seat when the promotion is running!

Offer Sunday Football Drink Specials

Drink specials are especially popular on Sundays, as game watchers want something to wash their wings and pizza down with. Beer in bulk is especially popular, so even if you don’t normally serve beer or sangria by the pitcher, you might make an exception if you start any game day promotions.

Football Promotional Ideas

Allie's Donuts Football CakeOne way to get people in the door is to offer special items that most other establishments aren’t doing.

charcuterie board with glass of wine

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Allie’s Donuts creates custom doughnut cakes and this one was made for The Whiskey Republic in Providence, an Irish rock, and sports pub. So it’s not only pizza and wings that get extra play on football Sundays; sweet desserts are also included into the mix at establishments that want to bring something different into the mix.

Alternatively, consider offering drink or food specials that start an hour or two before the actual game—that way you can get everyone into your bar well before the game starts and the chances of them getting up and leaving to find a spot in any of the other bars that showing the game that are surly now crowded are slim to none. Another unique approach to football season promotions is offering up games or giving away merch throughout the season. People love free stuff, especially tees featuring their favorite teams or players. Maybe set up a beer pong table to cater to those whose competitive spirit is what obviously gets them out to watch football games.

Celebrate With a Party

Every football game counts because there are only 16 in a season, compared to some sports that have dozens more. Since fans find value in each game, there’s clearly reason to celebrate!

ShelaLara Vineyards participates on football Sundays by arranging their usual tasting room into a viewing room. Guests get to watch the game and drink some wine in the process. Don’t think that just because you don’t offer pizza and beer that people won’t want to stop by your spot for a football game. Instead, think about all the friends and significant others who get brought along against their will and would kill to shake things up with some wine instead of an IPA for once (or for the rest of the season).

Don’t Forget the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the biggest televised sporting event. Even people who aren’t fans of football watch the Super Bowl, so it’s a great opportunity to throw a party that gets everyone involved.

We’ve shared some other tips in the past for utilizing the Super Bowl for your small business. How about simply promoting bulk take-out for the day? People love to eat during Football games, but not everybody loves to cook!

One idea that has become wildly popular is mimicking the Super Bowl to some degree. For instance, Animal Planet has the Puppy Bowl each year. There are sponsors of the game and an array of puppies are featured playing, napping and overall being utterly cute. Each puppy in the game is available for adoption.

Of course, you probably don’t have a dozen cute puppies to parade around in a fake football stadium, but you can take the spirit of the game and work with it by hosting a party, offering incentives to buy food, like prize drawings, inviting other local establishments to join the fun and maybe even have a DJ or host to keep the crowd engaged.

Football season flies by quickly, so don’t miss this opportunity to engage your pigskin-loving audience.

Check out Upserve’s seasonality guide!

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As part of Upserve’s family of more than 10,000 restaurants, The Chef is Restaurant Insider’s secret weapon in the kitchen. As a restaurant expert in all things marketing, menu building, management, training and more, restaurateurs trust The Chef and the award-winning Restaurant Insider to dish out the ingredients needed to make your business a sweet success.
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