Money Makers: Ideas for driving food and drink sales at your pub

By Sheila McWattie

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Social media Cheese

The Big Ugly Faggot: One-and-a-half pounds of homemade British faggots, creamed potato, garden peas and onion gravy
The Big Ugly Faggot: One-and-a-half pounds of homemade British faggots, creamed potato, garden peas and onion gravy
Pub Food's focus on event and promotional ideas for your pub.

Man vs Food challenge

Big Ugly Challenge at the Farmers Boy Inn, Longhope, Gloucestershire

Twitter: @philkiernan

The idea:​ Competing customers eat around 50oz of themed food as fast as possible in c30 minutes. Events include Big Ugly Burger/Steak/Faggot Challenge, held on last Friday of the month.

How it works:​ Customers choose next month’s theme via social media. Entry cost varies according to ingredients (c£25-£40 each), ensuring 70% GP, while keeping quality consistent. Burger challenge involves eight quarter-pounders; steak serving is 48oz; faggots are served with mashed potatoes and peas.

Marketing: ​Owner Phil Kiernan values engaging with customers via all available social media channels, including his pub’s Purple Cow​ digital newsletter; YouTube and Instagram, plus an app, and email system that contacts the pub’s database. Press interest has been high, including coverage on TV and in The Sun​.

Be prepared: ​Consider asking competitors to sign disclaimer as competing may affect their health.

Pay-off: ​Engagement and sharing via social media promotes loyalty, reputation and footfall. Customers enjoy having their names and contest date added to pub’s ‘hall of fame’ board, and using individual competition tactics.

Key benefits: ​Extensive social media interaction raises pub’s profile. Contest drives up wet sales.

Advice: ​Optimise communication channels, from social media to press and word of mouth.

Best outcome: ​Widespread publicity at minimal cost, showcasing quality produce.

Cheese Club

Where:​ The Crown, Croston, Lancashire


Twitter: ​@thecrowncroston

The idea: ​Monthly cheese and wine tasting in association with Lancashire cheese supplier, Dewlay Cheesemakers.

How it works:​ On the last Sunday of each month, guests enjoy six themed cheeses plus matched wines and bitters. Dewlay’s sales director, Ian Coggin, also talks to guests about the histories of the cheeses on offer.

Marketing: ​Coloured leaflets were produced and delivered around the village for the first three months that the club was running. The event is also promoted via Facebook, Twitter, on a board outside the pub and via word of mouth.

Be prepared:​  The pub’s restaurant tables are arranged in a horseshoe and set with tasting notes plus the appropriate table and glassware. Each month, the pub liaises with the supplier regarding the cheeses to be used. Previous themes have included cheese from the south coast and blue cheeses. Guests are charged £9.95 per head. Future events will include a cheese quiz and a three course Christmas set menu, with all courses featuring different cheeses.

Pay-off: ​Positive feedback from customers; offers something different for regulars and attracts new customers; generates sales for the supplier; strengthens the pub’s relationship with the supplier.

Key benefits:​ Boosts Sunday night footfall and takings – the event is a sell out; raises the pub’s improved profile within the local community.

Advice:​ Tenant of the Thwaites pub, Jo Bentley, says: “Don’t introduce an event just because it’s popular elsewhere. Instead, choose something that you’re passionate about. That way, organising it is a pleasure.”

Best outcome:​ 100% increase in Sunday night takings.

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