10 Ways to Pack Those Bar Stools Right Now

Oh no! You’ve hit the slow season for bars! You’ve celebrated New Years, Valentine’s Day, Restaurant Week, Mardi Gras, and St. Patrick’s Day… but now you have to wait until Cinco de Mayo before another big drinking holiday happens. Here are 10 ways to get some butts in those bar stools of yours, even when it’s not a traditional drinking holiday.

1. Run Some Contests

When you invite your bar guests to participate in contests such as naming a new signature drink or growing the most awesome mustache, the sense of pride they feel makes them into lasting customers for you. Prizes will make your guests feel extra special.

2. Start Fundraising for a Cause

You could do something easy like a food drive, or you could partner with local community non-profits to raise awareness and funds. Whatever you choose, your bar receives some killer buzz, and you have the chance to help the world become a better place. Does it get any better?

3. Celebrate Random Holidays

Okay, so the famous holidays are all taken. You can still celebrate lesser-known holidays such as Peanut Butter and Jelly Day (April 2), National Eight Track Tape Day (April 11), or National Pretzel Day (April 26) to fill up those bar stools.

4. Bring in Some Celebrity Bartenders

This is a great way to put your bar on the map, but it takes a lot of work and supervision on your part. If you invite local celebrities to bartend for a night (or a few hours) at your bar, the buzz will be incredible and tons of people will show up and discover the awesomeness that is your bar. Just make sure to watch your celebrity bartenders carefully and maybe give them an introductory bar tending lesson, so that your new bartenders don’t do anything that might hurt your business.

5. Become the Dog-Friendly Bar

Want to find a new loyal crowd and a way to bring people into your bar at an odd hour? Be the dog-friendly bar. If you set up your patio to be dog friendly, with bowls of water and maybe some free dog treats, you can draw in the afternoon dog-walking crowd and guarantee some extra business.

6. Host a TV Night

This one is so simple, yet people will absolutely love your bar for it. See what shows your bar regulars are looking forward to using a questionnaire (you can also just ask them if that’s easier). Your guests should come up with some kind of consensus, and all you have to do is turn on that show for a season premiere or finale… oh, and of course promote the heck out of the event.

7. Sponsor a Sports-Themed Evening

It’s March Madness right now, and there are many ways your bar can celebrate that. You can throw a Martini Madness party, or you can extend your happy hours to match the games, or you can create signature drinks for the teams that are playing, or you can do a $4 special during the Final Four, or—you get the idea. There’s a lot that you can do to scoop up on the sports season.

8. Take a Chance on Game Night

Encourage gamers to come to your bar with game night. You can host a video game night or a board game night, you can even host a naughty game night. Just make it a game night and your bar will be the star of  the local social media scene. One tip though, you might want to make sure that you have more seats than just bar stools for this event, or sitting for hours playing games will mean that your guests leave with numb cheeks.

9. Become Buzzworthy with Amateur Night

This one makes your social media channel sparkle as well. If you create a weekly amateur night, but you change the type of act each week, you’ll draw in a different crowd every time. For example, you could have Tuesday amateur nights at your bar. On the first Tuesday of the month, you have Slam Poetry Night. On the second Tuesday of the month, you have Comedy Night. On the third Tuesday you have Music Night, and on the last Tuesday, you have a Talent Show. Every Tuesday night, you have a popular bar.

10. Hold Party Raffles

To make this one work, you should have free raffle tickets that come with every drink purchased. Every hour, you draw a new raffle ticket, and that person (who had to give you their email address–bonus!) wins a small prize.  Or hold weekly drawings for a free private party. To make private parties special, you can set aside a specific room, or you can create a party stamp to mark the hands of attendees. You should offer specials to party-goers, such as half-price appetizers and well drink specials… and of course, you should market it as something exclusive. When you do this, your guests will bring in all your new business for you; all you have to do is keep up with the drink orders.

No matter what promo(s) you choose, your bar is sure to entice new people. As long as you use these opportunities to show off how incredible your bar is, those new people should become regulars. When you establish your bar properly as the great, new hotspot, your buzz will ensure that by the time Cinco de Mayo rolls around, people will line up around the block to celebrate in style at your cool bar.

Photo licensed by Nekidtroll