3 Steps to Hosting a Bar-Packing Theme Night:
Part 1 of Our 3-Part Guest Blogger Series
By Guest Blogger Rochelle Carlotti, Bar Manager
The bar business a competitive and fickle industry. It can sometimes be difficult to find novel and creative ways to generate new clientele to your establishment while also catering to your regular patrons. Planning special event nights can be a great way to increase revenue and create buzz about your bar in an environment where the hot spot is constantly changing.
I run a small gastropub called Jekyll and Hyde’s in a post-industrialized, rust belt city in Pennsylvania. We have a steady crowd of regular customers, but I wanted to find a way to boost business mid-week and on weekends where other events around town made business slower than usual. Planning and hosting special event nights have proven to do the trick. These events give people a reason to pick my bar over the same tired options they have night after night.
Here is the first step to Hosting a Bar-Packing Theme Night:
Step 1. Pick a Theme
Coming up with a theme is the most difficult part. Think about your current patrons, as well as the demographic you’d like to attract. One of my first themes started with a simple monthly Vinyl Night. With vinyl records making a resurgence, I hired a DJ for a small fee to come and spin records and encouraged patrons to bring their favorite records from home to have played at the bar.
This drew customers with a common interest of vinyl collecting to come together and explore each other’s collections, and gave music lovers the opportunity to discover new artists or albums they may not have heard before. As the popularity of Vinyl Nights grew, we started having genre-specific events too, such as Punk Vinyl Night, Metal Vinyl Night, Classic rock Vinyl Night and so on.
Other simple event ideas include:
- A monthly game night, where patrons bring their own games to play while having drinks with friends or picking a game provided by the bar.
- An open Mic Night where local musicians can gather to play together and showcase their talents.
- A Viewing party of a popular TV show such as American Horror Story or Game of Thrones. The bar can provide specialty cocktails based on the show being viewed.
The Theme Nights we’ve had the biggest response from are the ones that only happen once every six months to a year and require a bit more planning. These can be anything from decade-themed nights, holiday parties, or pop culture themes. This year, our biggest revenue boosters have been 90’s Night, Emo Night, Disney Trivia Night, Summer Solstice Beach Party, and a “Pajama Jam”.
So, now you have your theme. What’s next? Stay tuned to find out.