While venerable NFL coaches Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan formulate their game plans leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, party planners the world over are doing the same.
That’s especially true for restaurant operators, who can expect a steady stream of customers during Super Bowl LVIII (58) on February 11, when the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers square off. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most popular days of the year to order to-go items, as roughly 1 in 7 Americans order takeout before, during, and after kickoff, according to research by Premio Foods.
Last year, 17.8 million people planned to watch the NFL championship at a bar or restaurant and spent about $85.36 per person, according to restaurant tech company SpotOn.
That blitz of customers can leave unprepared establishments overwhelmed.
On Super Bowl Sunday, “establishments can narrow down menu options, and/or come up with specials that are easier on production to facilitate handling the rush,” said Brandon Dorsky, CEO of Fruit Slabs and part owner of Yeastie Boys Bagels. “Be transparent that orders may be delayed due to heavy traffic.”
Hot Menu Items Ahead of Super Bowl LVIII
While hot wings largely rule the day on Super Bowl Sunday – The National Chicken Council estimated that more than 1.4 billion wings were consumed on Feb. 11-12, 2023 – unconventional appetizers could also be heavily featured this year.
“People appear to be drawn to customizable and shareable plates, which add a festive element to the game-day experience,” Gabrielle Yap, an editor at carnivorestyle.com, told The Food Institute. “Loaded nachos with creative toppings such as pulled pork, guacamole, and different cheese blends are a standout option.”
“Bar food, in general, is popular – think wings, nachos, and potato skins,” said Kevin Bryla, CMO and head of customer experience at SpotOn.
Craft beer flights and signature cocktails have also been gaining popularity. Meanwhile, since January 14, SpotOn noted that many of its restaurant clients have added menu items like elaborate hot wings (such as hot honey garlic parmesan wings) and sliders (e.g., sliders made of brisket).
“Traditional bar foods are incredibly approachable and make great vehicles for global cuisines and flavors,” Bryla said. ‘We see shareable snacks, dips, sliders, and sandwiches serving double duty for restaurants with options for small- and large-sized group portions.”
A Proven Game Plan
Industry insiders feel bars and restaurants should consider the following strategies as they prepare to watch the 49ers and Chiefs (and Taylor Swift’s reactions) on February 11:
- Spread the word and announce specials or activities planned by taking a multi-channel approach, using digital marketing across social media and email.
- Arm yourself with tools to handle high volumes. Improve staff members’ order accuracy and speed with handheld POS devices. Establishments might also consider using QR codes to offer customers the option to order and pay at their tables.
- Hold a pre-shift meeting to get all employees on the same page, clarify roles, and help create an efficient workflow.
- Decide upon an agreed-upon comp for unreasonable delays to keep customer frustration at bay.
- Set up a designated area for takeout orders to avoid congestion. Sounds simple, but many bars overlook this strategy.
- Drive repeat business. Add to your establishment’s customer database to draw them back for future events or LTOs. Once you’ve collected email addresses from customers, it’s simple to reach out to them all year with targeted marketing campaigns.
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