Ah, the wearin’ o’ the green, the imbibing of green beer and feasting on corned beef and cabbage – all cornerstones of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. But this year, cooler weather on the East Coast and Catholic archdioceses deciding against granting dispensations for the consumption of meat on Fridays could put a crimp in the annual search for that pot of gold.
Plus, some traditional St. Patrick’s Day vegetables are seeing price increases of late.
March 17 has been a religious holiday for more than a millennium, honoring the death of St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. The first parade was held in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1601 – a tradition now honored by both the Irish and the Irish-for-a-day.
The National Retail Federation reported 61% of consumers expect to celebrate the day, expecting to spend an average $43.87 – 31% making a special dinner, 25% attending a party at a bar or restaurant, with 15% attending a private party. A whopping 80% said they would wear green.
Restaurants and bars are hoping that the passing of COVID-imposed restrictions would be a boon this St. Patrick’s Day. An estimated 90,000 restaurants across the U.S. have closed since the start of the pandemic three years ago and many remain shuttered.
More than 70% of U.S. bishops will allow Catholics to eat meat March 17, despite Lent, the National Catholic Register reported.
ST. PADDY’S SPECIALS ABOUND
Across the country food franchisors are getting into the act. FranchiseWire reported Bar Louie offering a $4 Jameson Sidecar to go along with a$5 Guinness Draught, and a $3 Bud Light Green beer.
Duck Donuts has a Lucky Duck Assortment, including a Bacon Shamrock donut and a Confetti Shamrock version while Dog Haus is offering an Irish inspired, antibiotic-free sausage blended with cabbage and corned beef spices, and McDonald’s brought back the Shamrock Shake and Oreo Shamrock McFlurry. The Hampton Social Club added green frozé to its menu.
FranchiseWire said other eateries offering St. Paddy’s drink specials and dishes include Hawaiian Bros, BurgerFi, Bennigan’s and Hooters. In Chicago alone, some 87 restaurants and bars listed specials for those wearing green, including free beer and traditional foods.
At Aldi’s, Star Wars Mandalorian Grogu Cakebites Lepre-Cones with green mint and chocolate ice cream were among the offerings.
“Business has come back to a degree,” Michael O’Leary, owner of Temple Bar & Grille in downtown Rochester, New York, told Spectrum News, adding that the city’s decision to hold a St. Patrick’s Day parade could draw big crowds to the area. “There’s a lot riding on this year’s parade.”
In Pittsburgh, Irish pubs and sports bars also are banking on a financial boost.
“You have to bring in a lot of beer. We usually sell about 50 to 70 barrels of beer on that one day. It’s probably about 1,500 people that go throughout the course of the day,” David Regan, the owner of Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle in the Strip District, told KDKA, Pittsburgh.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, they honored St. Patrick with a pub crawl that offered participants a free T-shirt and other swag. Food was offered by DJ’s Food Trucks in addition to available bar fare. Edley’s-Bar-B-Que is selling green bushwhackers and pastrami in Nashville.
Numerous parades are set for March 17 with temperatures in the 40s and snow, slush and rain possible in most of the country.
ST. PADDY’S STAPLES SEE PRICE INCREASES
The U.S. potato market is coming off two consecutive years with a short crop, with the 2022 yield down about 2%, according to Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute sector manager Brad Rubin.
“In the retail stores, we’ve seen lower sales volumes and higher prices, but the cost of potatoes has come down in recent months and is still very reasonable for consumers. … Right now, there are plenty of potatoes for St. Patrick’s Day,” he told The Food Institute.
Rubin noted Russet potatoes remain the most popular fresh potato sold, but specialty potatoes and fingerlings were gaining steam among consumers. That said, supply shortages would not require consumers to switch varieties.
The industry expert said the leafy greens market in general and the cabbage market specifically had a rough six months due to the spread of Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV) in the Salinas, California crop. Additionally, a supply gap due to a late Yuma, Arizona, crop pushed prices up.
“Cabbage has also seen an increase in demand as an alternative to lettuce, which also spiked in price for some of the same reasons. Cabbage will continue to remain volatile in pricing until supply and demand are normalized,” Rubin added.
Regarding carrots, Rubin said they remained a cheap commodity that had seen some price increases. However, he said these increases would not likely scare customers away.
Editor’s note: Food Institute senior content manager Chris Campbell contributed to this report.