Ah, St Patrick’s Day! One of the busiest dates in hospitality, the event marks the passing of St Patrick – the foremost patron saint of Ireland. A cultural and religious observance, it’s celebrated annually with all manner of beer-themed, green-tinged events.
Taking place on Tuesday, March 17, St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland, with events set up to mark the occasion generally including public parades, festivals and traditional Irish music.
In England, pubs, restaurants and cafes will have their own way of marking the date, so the question is this: is your venue ready for it? Here are a few things to think about as we head towards the middle of March…
You already change your menu with the seasons, no doubt, but have you considered serving up some St Paddy’s Day dishes? Corned beef and cabbage, or green eggs and ham are just two traditional main courses. Of course, you could add your own twist to one of these dishes to ensure it’s in keeping with your own offering – take a look here for some ideas, including good old-fashioned Irish stew, and Guinness-infused chocolate puddings.
You could even roll out a special offer for St Patrick’s Day – on food or drinks. Post it on social media to give diners plenty of time to make plans to visit your venue.
Remember that many of your customers will be visiting for a drink (or three!) only, so consider adding a ‘smaller bites’ section to your menu for those that don’t want a full meal. These Irish potato bites, for example, are quick and easy to whip up, as are these smoked salmon canapes.
If your venue serves food during the daytime only, you could dish up an Irish brunch. A loaded Irish breakfast bowl could feature Irish gravy, sausage and potatoes for a fun twist on a traditional breakfast, or put your own spin on some tried and tested dishes.
Whether you decide to go all-out and book a traditional Irish band, or your staff feel brave enough to don entirely green attire, consider how you might get into the St Paddy’s Day spirit. Irish dancers can take a traditional Cèilidh-style affair up a notch, as will a guitarist or two during cocktail hour. Get your thinking cap on and see what you can come up with.
BuzzTime offers some inspiration on traditional Irish games, including a rings tournament, darts and even croquet, if you have the space for the latter.
So, you’ve considered your adult diners; what about their children? St Patrick’s Day is a great excuse to create a fun-filled family get together in your venue, so make sure you appease the kids as well as the adults.
St Patrick’s Day-themed colouring sheets and fancy dress competitions may just cut it – but this site has plenty of ideas if you have the capacity to create a craft corner for kids. You could even hide some four-leaf clovers around your café, giving kids an incentive to find them all.
Kindly contributed by Steve Midgley Consulting Development Chef, 30 years experience in fine dinning, creating fantastic experiences at Michelin star restaurants.