Category Archives: March Madness event ideas

Chicago Restaurants: 5 Tips for a BIGGER March Madness Party

'friends toasting at March Madness party at restaurantIt’s time to celebrate those March Madness wins and grieve those big losses. As a restaurant manager, you can be along for the ride—and the big dance—if you don’t drop the ball planning this year’s March Madness event.

Don’t wait until the first jump ball

The first step is to not to wait until Selection Day to start prepping and promoting your restaurant March Madness party. Plan a promotional schedule that starts weeks before Selection Day. Strategically place décor and signs that announce March Madness events and specials, such as behind the bar and by the door for customers that leave and enter. Create a buzz by posting big announcements, images, and dates on social media that draw a crowd.

Choose the right promos

The best, slam-dunk March Madness restaurant promotions are baskeball-themed and carefully chosen for the target audience. Put simply, restaurants need to offer promotions that matter to existing and new customers, such as discounts when the local favorites win or giveaways for upsets. Consider running specials (i.e. 4.40 wings for the Final Four, 16 deals to celebrate the Sweet Sixteen, rewards for successful brackets) the coordinate with the local March Madness buzz (or put your own spin on one of these March Madness promotion ideas).

Brew up a winner

According to WalletHub, a surplus 1.3 million barrels of beer is produced every March (over other months of the year). The takeaway for restaurants is to include beer into your March Madness event and promotion strategy. Consider running happy hour specials before and after games to draw customers in and extend the party. Ask social media followers to name the kind of beer that fits the game they’re buzzing about. Select brews that fit certain events, or put your own twist on a favorite brew.

Brag about your big screens

A March Madness party isn’t complete without big screens so customers can catch all those big March Madness plays. Buy or rent big screens for the occasion, and don’t hesitate to show off all those televisions and projector screens online. Share images and videos of the screens and the party space as you put it together; customers love to see inside scoops and shots of what’s to come.

Put together the ultimate party space

If you have space for the ultimate March Madness restaurant event, use it. If you don’t, use tents (heated so your customers are warm during our Chicago winters) to expand the space and draw customers in. Position your tents strategically. A tent in front of a restaurant can be a draw for sidewalk traffic. A well-promoted tent behind a restaurant can be a huge addition that can make your March Madness event an overtime win.

Make Your March Madness Restaurant Party a Slam Dunk

march madness party at chicago restaurantMarch Madness celebrations are the BEST when the home team is winning and everyone’s brackets (and squares) aren’t a bust. While restaurant owners and managers can’t control the March Madness games, there are ways to ensure your March Madness party feels like an overtime victory (to you and your guests).

Comfortable Guests

You want your guests complaining about the refs’ calls, not how cramped or cold your party is. While the Windy City is a great location for a March Madness party, the weather can be terrible. This can be a blessing and a curse; because the weather isn’t great, it can be great for a party turnout. The curse is that the temperatures can dip way below comfortable. Accommodating an extra-large turnout—and the weather—can be easily solved with a tent. A tent with sidewalls and an excellent heating system can accommodate both needs, without making guests feel uncomfortable in a cramped space. (The tent can also be installed so guests don’t even notice the transition from restaurant to tent.)

Good Bar

A good bar is a must for any restaurant or sports bar celebrating one of the biggest sports events of the year. Many bars are an over-the-top March Madness party feature that every guest appreciates (especially when the place is packed!) Meet their expectations by renting an additional bar for your March Madness event (and strategically position it for maximum use). Discuss your options for a second bar with event professionals; a keg bar can be an easy way to serve the most popular brews so your guests don’t have to wait for all those other drink orders. 

Slam Dunk Menu

Restaurant menus don’t have to be cheesy, but they do have to be delicious and suitable for the occasion. The menu can be customized specifically for March Madness or those favorites that suit the event; either way, be sure to include the menu items that draw a crowd into marketing efforts. If your event is an all-inclusive, pay-at-the-door, rent food service dishes to keep the food hot—and the crowd ready for the next game.

Additional Seating

The best March Madness games keep spectators on the edge of their seat (or stool). Don’t be one of those restaurants that doesn’t give them a place to sit. Rent additional seating and tables to accommodate a crowd. For a sports bar atmosphere, rent high boy tables and stools. More formal parties should rent tables and seats for a sit-down (when the games not getting tight) feel.