Tuesday, 9 September 2014

If all goes to plan... Fuller's Tenants Extra, May 2014

If all goes to plan, the World Cup should see customers besieging the bar. With extended opening hours for all England games confirmed by the Home Office, and all fingers crossed that we progress past the group stages in Brazil, the tournament is shaping up to be a significant driver of wet trade this summer.

Food can present a more challenging issue for pubs during big sporting occasions. Alongside the logistical issue of deploying staff to serve food when the bar is busy, unless the business is lucky enough to have a completely separate restaurant area, the atmosphere during the biggest games is unlikely to be conducive to customers hoping to enjoy a quiet meal.

The tournament’s early and mid-evening kick-offs, at 5pm and 8pm or 9pm UK time, will also – pun intended - eat into the usual peak food serving periods for pubs which decide to show more than just the England games.

Football and food aren’t mutually exclusive, though.  Every pub which shows sport is familiar with the ‘two-pint punter’, a customer who has a beer during the first half, another during the second and then slips away. Persuading some of these seat-huggers to eat will help to make their visit to your pub during the World Cup far more profitable.

Ideas for driving food sales during the tournament include:

  • Make a virtue of a trimmed-back, simpler menu by promoting it as a ‘Football Feast’, Use posters and chalkboards in the run-up to the tournament to ensure customers know you’re serving food during the big matches;
  • Focus on easy-to-serve, hand-held food such as burgers, hot dogs, pizza slices, skewers and chips & dips;
  • Gear up for the busiest times by having food ready to serve in the 20 minutes before and after the game, and the half time period;
  • Create bespoke sharing platters using buffet foods to serve during   
  • Offer a patriotic English tapas menu during England’s games, with mix-and-match choices such as battered fish goujons, scotch eggs, individual pies, and regional specialities such as sausages and cheese;     
  • Theme your snack foods to the other big teams playing in the tournament, such as pizza for Italy, burgers for the USA and cheeseboard for France;
  • Host nation Brazil loves barbecues, so use outdoor areas to offer Brazilian-style skewered meats and fish served with spicy sauces; 
  • Offer a pre-match meal deal, such as two courses for a set price, to customers who book in advance.
There are also a couple of notes of caution to think about when planning your World Cup food offer:
  • Table service during games may seem like a good idea, with platters of food and pitchers of beer brought to customers at their seats.  However, think about how your pub will look during a busy game, with customers standing around tables and blocking the path through the pub. A platter-and-pitcher collection point at the bar for the duration of the busiest games may be a better option.
  • Reserved tables can be a source of annoyance to customers who make the effort to arrive early to get a good seat for the match, only to find empty tables they can’t sit at. If you’re taking pre-match bookings for meals, think about booking customers in at least 45 minutes before the match so they’re seated when the walk-ins arrive.

And one more thing: Come on England!
This column originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Fuller's Tenants Extra           



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