With the calendar about to roll over, the number of days you have to boost your sales with hungry, thirsty football fans keeps growing smaller. Fortunately, the NCAA ends their season like a Fourth of July fireworks display — with a spectacular grand finale. With 40 bowl games left on the slate, there are plenty of opportunities to close out this year on a high note and jump start your 2019.
With all due respect to the Boca Raton Bowl, the Taxslayer Bowl, and the always delicious Idaho Potato Bowl, you should be focusing your efforts on the big games to get the biggest numbers. Unless, of course, you have some local interest in those bowl games. Here are a few pointers to tailor your service, with a special wing idea thrown in for each game.
Saturday, December 29th, 2018
Peach Bowl – Noon EST, ESPN, Florida Gators vs. Michigan Wolverines
Though the game itself may lack the stakes of some of the later contests, the teams still lay claim to two of the biggest fan bases in college sports. The University of Michigan, in particular, has nearly 100 alumni groups throughout the country, many of whom have dedicated watch parties to cheer on the Wolverines. Reaching out to those groups can help drive attendance to your doors.
Spicy Peach Wing: The bowl game is named after its host city of Atlanta’s chief export. Naturally, a wing commemorating the game should do the same. The pairing of sweet and heat is never a bad idea, especially when you’re trying to squeeze a few more beer sales on the books. Combining Frank’s RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce with peach preserves, butter, and soy sauce will coat your wings with a deep, bold flavor sure to activate your guests’ thirst buds.
Year five of the NCAA’s college football tournament featuring three familiar faces and one of the sport’s most storied programs. While Alabama has made the BCS playoff every year since its inception, Clemson has made three appearances, and Oklahoma has done so twice, this is the first year Notre Dame has been invited to the dance. The school that gave us Rudy, Touchdown Jesus, and “win one for the Gipper” has fans so passionate they occasionally flirt with insanity. Of course, Americans also love winners, and Alabama’s five national titles over the last decade have defined this era for the sport.
Promoting the two games as an all-night event can pack your bar for hours. Designating certain cheering sections of your bar for each team by setting up banners in different areas can help define the space and instill a sense of ownership and pride in your guests. Offering gift certificates, apparel, and other prizes for winners of Pick `Em games adds a little interaction to the day, turning your guests from consumers to participants. It also adds an incentive for them to make the trip back for the championship game.
Cotton Bowl, 4 PM EST, ESPN, #2 Clemson Tigers vs. #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Cotton Candy Wing: The idea of a cotton candy wing may seem a little crazy, but remember, we’re dealing with guests that paint their faces and go shirtless in sub-zero temperatures here. Adding a bit of cotton candy extract to a saucy mixture of Frank’s RedHot® XTRA Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce and scotch bonnet peppers can bring the right touch of sweetness to a fiery wing.
BONUS: 24 Karat Gold Wings. This is a perfect wing for the Notre Dame fans at your bar. Frank’s RedHot® 24 Karat Gold Wings not only have a bold flavor, but it’s a nice thematic nod to the famous gold helmets of the Fighting Irish.
Orange Bowl, 8 PM EST, ESPN, #1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #4 Oklahoma Sooners
Hot Orange Wing: Orange chicken is a classic, but it may lack the heat you need to keep the beer pitchers flowing. Ginger, orange juice, fish sauce, and brown sugar can benefit from added jalapenos and Frank’s RedHot® Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce to round out the flavor profile on these wings.
Tuesday, January 1st, 2019
New Year’s Day. The holy grail of college football. If you play your cards right, you can have parties in the building for almost 12 hours. A major challenge with this format though is how to best keep the fans of the early games’ losers in the building after watching their season end. You might want to consider a “consolation discount” for fans wearing the apparel of the days less fortunate teams in order to keep the revenue flowing.
Fiesta Bowl – 1 PM EST, ESPN, Louisiana State Tigers vs. Central Florida Knights
Fiesta Wings: Not every wing needs to be accompanied by a stack of moist towelettes. A dry-rub that imparts traditional Mexican flavors can be just as delicious. There’s no shortage of spices you can use, but the Lawry’s Mango Habanero Wings Seasoning Mix is a good starting point. Add cumin, garlic powder, and a healthy backing of salt will complete the flavor.
Rose Bowl – 5 PM EST, ESPN, Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Washington Huskies
Mango Rose Wings: When used in moderation, rosewater can be an intriguing flavor, but it must be balanced. The sweetness of mango puree and the spice from habanero peppers can work together with the rosewater for a unique combination.
Sugar Bowl – 8:45 EST, ESPN, Georgia Bulldogs vs. Texas Longhorns
Sweet & Sour Wings: The great thing about sweetness, is that it has no shortage of “flavor friends.” Everybody loves sugar, and it goes great with just about everything. Making it into a simple syrup, then mixing it with ketchup, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and pineapple juice will give you a mouth-watering wing.
BONUS: Tex-Mex Buffalo Wings. While the buffalo wing is a staple of every sports bar’s menu, the Sugar Bowl starring the Texas Longhorns is a great opportunity to put a twist on an old classic. Frank’s RedHot® Tex-Mex Buffalo Wings takes your standard buffalo wing and gives it an amazing Texas flair that’ll get fans ready for the game.
Monday, January 7th, 2019
National Championship, 8 PM EST, ESPN, Cotton Bowl Winner vs. Orange Bowl Winner
This is it. Go big or go home. More sports clichés. There are few sporting events that get larger crowds than this, so you shouldn’t have a problem getting bodies in the building, so concentrate on making your guests’ experience the best it can be. Staff should be encouraged to wear team colors, put on eye black, or any other reasonable expressions of fandom.
Take cues from what worked and what didn’t work for the previous games. If cheering sections were a hit, make them even bigger and decorate even harder. Which wings were your best sellers? Have the two most popular face off in a wing championship. Now is the time to reach out to your vendors and sales reps for free swag for giveaways and contests.
You may be selling food and drink to your guests for tonight, but you should always be selling yourself for tomorrow as well. The bigger smile they leave with, even if their team falls short, the more likely they are to come back.