One day is not enough for Pat’s

An extended celebration of Éire’s patron saint can lead to divine results for pubs

St Patrick’s Day is said to be a great time to maximise both footfall and profits in pubs and bars as people gather to celebrate the occasion

TYPICALLY known around the world for banishing all the snakes out of Ireland, Saint Patrick is arguably better known now for driving customers into pubs and bars every March 17.

Having been a calendar occasion for over three centuries, St Patrick’s Day has since become the most celebrated national festival around the world.

In Dublin, an event which was initially held on the day is now a major celebration of Irish culture spanning five days.

And operators who wish to make the most of the occasion in their venues have been encouraged to do likewise and extend the celebrations over multiple days by the firms behind Irish drinks brands.

With major Irish or Anglo-Irish sporting events taking place over the days before St Pat’s, the opportunity is there for licensees who want to kick off their festivities early, said Janette Murray, group marketing manager – Irish cider at C&C Group, owner of Magners Cider.

Although the day falls on a Sunday this year, the Six Nations concludes on Saturday March 16, and with Ireland in the hunt to retain the title, it presents an “obviously good way to start St Patrick’s celebrations a day earlier”, said Murray.

In addition, with the popular Cheltenham Festival taking place from March 12 to March 15 and plenty of runners and riders making the trip across the Irish Sea in search of racing glory, Murray added that the potential is there to “extend the occasion even further”.

A spokeswoman for Diageo, the firm behind the Dublin stout Guinness, seconded that approach.

“As it falls on a Sunday this year, publicans should focus on the ‘weekend opportunity’ that the day offers to increase customer footfall and profits – whilst ensuring their preparations take place over the prior weekend,” she said.

In preparation for the event, licensees have been urged to take advantage of the occasion by embracing the traditional themes that are associated with March 17 and going all out to be better than the competition.

“Publicans should make their outlet the best destination to celebrate St Patrick’s Day by creating a themed occasion,” said Diageo’s spokeswoman.

“It provides licensees the opportunity to increase sales during this pivotal event.

“They can do so via such offerings as Irish food, Irish music and entertainment, and Irish cocktails.”

And pairing Irish food with Irish drinks brands can prove a particular hit.

“Thinking about their food and offering a themed menu, such as Irish stew and pint and pie deals, will improve the overall experience, as well as help capitalise on the fact that food occasions are growing in the on-trade,” said Diageo’s spokeswoman.

Good promotion is vital to getting as many customers through the doors as possible, she added, advising operators to make sure “St Patrick’s Day POS materials are highly visible ahead of the occasion”.

“Additionally, publicans should use all available channels to publicise their St Patrick’s Day celebrations ahead of the occasion, including social media,” she said.

When it comes to incorporating Irish spirits in serves, an Irish coffee, made with whiskey from the Emerald Isle can go down well no matter how long the celebrations last, according to Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, distributor of Paddy Irish Whiskey.

He said: “Offering authentic Irish coffee is a great way to extend St Patrick’s Day celebrations with a treat that customers will enjoy right across the weekend.”