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Easy Ways to See Green on Saint Patrick’s Day 

Seeing green on Saint Patrick’s Day takes more than luck. With the holiday quickly approaching,  now is the time to start planning your menu  and devising a marketing strategy to grab a piece of the St. Paddy Shepherd's Pie.

History of St. Patrick’s Day

In Ireland, Saint Patrick's Day is a religious and cultural holiday, commemorating the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Observed on March 17th each year, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, celebrations generally involve public parades, traditional  social gatherings, and the wearing of green attire. 

It is a little-known fact that until about 40 years ago, St. Paddy’s Day was considered such a solemn and religious holiday that all of the pubs and bars remained closed. Not until the church allowed Lenten restrictions to be lifted on the holiday did  the tradition of  alcohol consumption begin to propagate. 

In the US, St. Patrick’s Day is not a federal holiday, but is instead all about parades, parties,  and green everything!

And in America, you don’t have to be Irish to get in on the festivities.  It’s  a time to rejoice about the end of winter, celebrate the coming of spring, and commemorate the luck of the Irish. 

*2024 St. Patrick's Day Facts and Stats

  •  America’s first St. Patrick’s Day celebration was in 1600 in the then Spanish colony of St. Augustine, Florida, with the first known St. Patrick’s Day parade held on March 17, 1601.

  • Records show that Irish soldiers first marched in celebration of Saint Patrick in New York City in 1762. 

  • In 2024, 61% of consumers plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

  • According to the US Census, 22 million Americans (about 7.2% of the population) say their primary ancestry  is Irish.

  • Most Irish-Americans live in the northeast.

  • Massachusetts  claims to be home to most  Irish descendents.

  • 80% of Americans wear green on St. Patrick's Day. 

  • 29% of Americans go to bars and restaurants. 

  • Total US consumer spending on St. Patrick's Day is predicted to be about $7 billion in 2024.

  • Average spending on St Patrick’s Day is estimated to be $43.84 per person.

  • Men spend $10 more than women on St. Patrick’s Day festivities.  

5 Ways to Make Your Competition Green with Envy

With St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and with more people celebrating than ever before, it’s time for restaurants to plan events and menu specials to make the competition green with envy.  

1. Fun and Games

St. Patrick’s Day is all fun and games – literally! Hosting a competition or tournament with Irish themes will make winners feel as lucky as a leprechaun.

  • Gold Hunt

Hide chocolate coins all around the restaurant. Announce a time that the competition will be over. The customer with the most coins wins a free dinner for two. Letting customers know that the winner must be present to win encourages guests to stay longer. 

  • Gold Coin Toss

For this game, you’ll need plastic gold coins and a few leprechaun pots ( dollar stores are a great source for holiday party decor and game supplies.) Divide groups of guests into teams and have them throw coins into a pot. For every successful toss, a player gets a point. The team with the most points gets a round of free green beer.

  • Irish Dancing

Hire an Irish dance instructor to teach your guests some basic moves and throw an Irish dancing competition.  Not only will participants enjoy the experience, but it’s a great opportunity to offer other guests some free and funny entertainment.

  • Four Leaf Clover Hunt

According to Irish lore, four leaf clovers are incredibly lucky. Bring a little of that good fortune to your St. Patrick’s Day promotions with a four leaf clover hunt. Keep things simple by taping a paper clover to the bottom of one of your bar stools. The guest sitting in the lucky seat gets a free drink, appetizer or dessert.

  • Pot of Gold Trivia Competition

Test your patrons’ knowledge with trivia-themed St. Patrick’s Day promotions. Hold your own live trivia event and offer a “pot-of-gold” gift card to the winner.

  • Irish Spirits Tasting

Partner with one of your liquor reps and hold a small-pour whisky tasting. Take things up a notch by hosting a special Irish-themed meal,  pairing whiskeys and stouts with traditional Irish dishes.

2. Pour on the  Green

It’s tradition to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day for good luck, but why not dress up your drinks too?  Here are a few St. Patrick’s Day-inspired spirits to help you rake in the green. 

  • Green Beer: Green beer is the number-one drink everyone is looking forward to on St. Patrick’s Day. Go with the flow and include it to your own special menu as well. For a 100%-Irish experience add a pint of Guinness.

  • Green Drink Specials: Don’t let beer steal all the glory during your St. Patrick’s Day promotions. For your cocktail drinkers, offer a variety of festive mixed drinks such as Midori Sours, Sour Apple Green  Martinis, Green Margaritas,  and Grasshoppers.

  • Irish Flag Drinks:  Show your Irish pride with a layered Irish Flag shot that features green creme de menthe, Irish cream liqueur and Grand Marnier orange liqueur.

  • Irish Car Bombs: Arguably one of the most popular Irish drinks, featuring a pint of Guinness and a shot of Jameson and Bailey’s. Patrons drop the shot into the beer and start chugging.

  •  Pot of Gold: A low-calorie recipe made entirely from vodka, syrup, and elderflower liqueur.

  • Shamrock Shaker: Very lightweight, and creamy, with a low hangover risk, simply combine Kahlua, amaretto, and milk and give all of it a good shake.

  • NA Drinks: Sober customers and kids will appreciate having a cocktail that contains zero alcohol. Consider creating a few alcohol-free drinks like a Frozen Green Margarita, Apple Martini, or Green Virgin Mary (sans the booze.)

3. St. Patrick’s Day Eve

St. Patrick’s Day is ideal for festivals and pub crawls, but to extend the celebration, consider creating an Irish-themed event St. Patrick’s Eve event as well, the evening before the big day.

Double down by incorporating a costume contest, encouraging guests to take pictures of themselves having a great time. Let one event feed off the other by letting customers know that if they attend the event and post their pix on social media that they'll receive a coupon for a free drink to be used the following day.

Not only will this give you an additional day to rack in the profits, but the posts will act as free advertising, attracting other customers to visit your restaurant on St. Patrick's Day as well.

4. Irish Brunch

Before guests begin a long day of drinking, they’ll need a big breakfast. Offer an Irish spin on some of your popular brunch items that will leave them full and ready for the events to follow. Recreate some of your restaurant’s most well-loved breakfast items.

  • Irish Eggs Benedicts: Eggs benedict is a popular brunch dish and can easily be adapted for your St. Patrick’s Day promotions by replacing ham with corn beef and hash.  

  • Loaded Irish Breakfast Bowl: Add an Irish touch to your regular breakfast bowl by adding some Irish gravy, sausage and potatoes.

5. Pet Leprechaun Parade

More and more people consider their pets members of the family, so it's important not to forget your customer's furry friends when contemplating an event.

Host a Pet Leprechaun parade and contest either in your dining room (if local restrictions allow) or on your patio (weather permitting) and offer prizes to all participants. Promote the event on social media and create a photo-posting promotion to take advantage of it. Let guests know that there will be prizes for the best costume, treats for all four-legged guests, and rewards for anyone who posts their pet pictures on social media.

Take it to the next level by collaborating with a local shelter and turn it into an adoption event. Be sure to invite the media as no one can resist a lucky pup finding their forever home.

Special Irish Menu

Looking for some inspiration for creating your St. Paddy’s Day menu? Well, you’re in luck!

  • Shepherd’s pie. A mix of ground meat, potato, and vegetables baked into a bready crust.  

  • Irish soda bread. A simple yet popular treat that your guests will be expecting on St. Patrick’s Day. is Irish soda Bread, basically,  just bread baked with baking soda.

  • Green eggs and ham. A simple yet ever-so-popular super popular dish, green eggs and ham are a delicious and Instagram-worthy dish.  

  • Bacon and cabbage. This simple appetizer in classic Irish style is another special worth considering for St. Patrick’s Day.

Take Away

Though St. Patrick's Day may not be a national holiday in the traditional sense, for restaurants and bars, it's traditionally one of the most profitable days of the year. It takes more than luck to make the holiday bring in the green, but by simply planning ahead and following these tips, Irish eyes will smile upon your business on March 17th.

By Eileen Strauss


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