8 Ways to Score Big this Football Season and Drive Game Day Sales

8 Ways to Score Big this Football Season and Drive Game Day Sales

It’s that time of the year—football season! It’s no secret that sporting events draw in tons of revenue for restaurants, so why not start thinking about ways to attract hungry fans and boost sales on game days. From increased marketing efforts to special menus, there are a variety of ways to engage guests and take advantage of game day sales.

Here are eight ways to leverage game day weekends and drive sales:


When it comes to game days, nearly everyone in the industry wants their bar or restaurant to be the go-to viewing destination. So how can you set yourself apart from everyone else? Wings, pizza, and beer are pretty standard when it comes to football games, but you can make your menu stand out by implementing any or all of these menu ideas:

1. Engage your customers.

Start polling guests in the weeks leading up to the game to identify their favorite tailgating foods. Leverage social media and the restaurant’s website to expand engagement. Encourage polling participation by offering prizes and restaurant discounts—when game day arrives, pull participant’s names from a football helmet to identify the winners. Each weekend can showcase a sampling of the most popular tailgating foods.

2. Develop team-inspired menus.

Highlight popular dishes that represent the cities of the teams playing each weekend. For example, if the Philadelphia Eagles are playing, you can showcase iconic Philadelphia dishes like cheesesteak sandwiches and soft pretzels and if the New Orleans Saints are playing, you can serve up gumbo and po boys.

3. Elevate classic bar foods.

Instead of just serving traditional Buffalo wings and cheeseburgers, why not get creative and offer a range of wing flavors and burger builds? Buffalo Wild Wings serves up more than a dozen different styles of wings, ranging from Thai Curry to Parmesan Garlic. And when it comes to burgers, the options are endless. Offer a customizable burger build menu featuring a variety of protein options like beef, bison, chicken, fish, shrimp and veggie, along with an assortment of toppings, sauces and even buns.

4. Don’t forget about Pescatarians and Vegetarians.

Demand for seafood and plant based cuisine is quickly expanding within foodservice, especially in the fast casual segment,1 so make sure your menu reflects these growing demands. Offer a variety of tasty meat-free dishes and you might even find your biggest meat-eaters ordering them. Fish tacos, shrimp po boys, fish & chips, ceviche and spicy salmon poke are sure to please your seafood fans while exciting plant-based fare like barbecue jackfruit sandwiches, spicy black bean nachos and crispy falafel sliders will be an instant hit among vegetarians and meat-eaters, alike.

5. Highlight high value menu claims.

Did you know that 86% of consumers would like restaurants to be more transparent about what’s in their food?2 This is especially true when it comes to animal protein—consumers now consider animal welfare, sustainability and the absence of antibiotics, hormones and preservatives as major factors when choosing what and where to eat.3 Take advantage of high-value ingredients, like grass-fed beef or lake-grown antibiotic-free tilapia, by calling out their attributes on your menu; you may see that being transparent with your customers could result in higher profits. Showcasing your commitment to quality can help set you apart from competitors.


Now that the menu has been developed, it’s time to get everything else ready for the busy season ahead. While it can seem overwhelming to think about everything that needs to get done, a little planning and preparation can go a long way and save you a ton of time. Here are three things you can do to prepare for game days:

1. Get organized.

Make sure the staff is prepared for the crowds and potential chaos game days can bring. Motivate staff to be enthusiastic and upsell menu items—incentivizing staff with prizes for the highest check averages can be a great motivator. In addition to a properly trained staff, make sure your food and beverage inventory is well stocked, especially those items that are being promoted that weekend.

2. Expand your takeout service.

People tend to order take-out and delivery in large quantities on game day, so offer online ordering to make it convenient for the customer and more efficient for the kitchen and staff. Encourage customers to place their orders early with incentives like free appetizers or 15% off the first 20 orders. Pre-orders mean your staff is better prepared for the big day.

3. Increase your marketing efforts.

From social media to email marketing to local press engagement, there are tons of ways to get the word out about your game day specials and promotions. Start promoting your restaurant and menu specials early in the season and stay consistent to drive awareness around every football weekend. In addition to off-site marketing, you can keep your guests informed with table tents, menu and check inserts, as well as signage throughout the restaurant to encourage game day visits.

When game day rolls around, it’s time to turn up the energy and start firing up the grill. With proper preparation and planning, you should be set up for a smooth, successful day. Make sure staff is aware of all menu specials and is extra attentive to guests. After all, the more often servers visit the table, the more opportunity there is for food and drink sales.

A little planning and extra effort can go a long way when it comes to football season. Keep your head in the game and remember that implementing even a few of these strategies can help you score big on game day!

1 Technomic, Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report, 2017
2 Technomic, “How Shifting Health Priorities Will Change Foodservice in 2016,” 2/2/16
3 Refrigerated & Frozen Foods, “Study: Restaurant Patrons Want Menu Transparency for Meat, Poultry,” 6/16/16