While tensions ran high this summer with the NFL lockout, bar owners, who depend on a football season for extra revenue, also were worried and feared the worse. Yet, things worked out, and with the Super Bowl just around the corner, those bar owners are no longer lamenting the loss of a profitable sports season but instead are planning for the one of the biggest sports days of the year.
Keegan Moon, director of operations at Bull & Bear sports bar in Chicago, has been working toward Super Bowl Sunday since the season kicked off with the bar’s Thirst and Goal promotion.
By offering a variety of specials, Bull & Bear starts football season on the right foot, creating a game-day special promotion that attracts customers to stop in each Sunday to watch their team play for gridiron supremacy.
The promotions includes First-and-Goal cups, which patrons can buy for $5 and take home. “They’re designed for beer pong,” Moon explains. “People take them home and collect them.” At Bull & Bear, guests can fill their cups with Bud Light, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois and Goose Island beers 312 and Green Line Pale Ale. Along with this promotion, the Bull & Bear team offers $5 Bloody Marys and a $5 Crack Pack — an inexpensive shot that the bartenders switch every week.
For committed fans, though, Moon says it’s the 110-ounce giant pilsner glass that separates the real sports fans from the novices. “We call it the Big Ass Glass,” and for $50 guests can fill it up with anything from beer to Bacardi cocktails, Moon says.
By setting the stage early with promotions of this caliber, Moon already is building up momentum for the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.
“We offer tailgate packages,” he says, such as the $100 Free Agent package for groups of four, which includes wings, Kobe sliders, nachos and a case of Bud Light. The top package is the Pro Bowler. For $500, guests enjoy wings, nachos, mini bratwursts, Kobe sliders, mini steak tacos, two Big Ass Glasses and a full case of Bud Light.
For Moon, he says, part of running a successful sports promotion is being inclusive, allowing any and all guests join in on the revelry. “We don’t do minimum (spending) at our tables even for the Super Bowl. We’re a sports bar,” he says. “It’s kind of obnoxious to require a dollar amount minimum. It’s first come, first serve.”
“Some people don’t like that we don’t offer reservations [for smaller groups]. You can’t make everyone happy. That annoys some people, but it’s the Super Bowl,” he says, noting that if people want to have a good time they should get out to Bull & Bear early to start the party. “That’s what we advertise; that’s how it should be for a sports bar.”
Because Chicago is a huge sports town with rabid fans, Moon says that by starting the promotion at the beginning of the season, Bull & Bear establishes a core group of regulars that expect to spend the Super Bowl at the sports bar. In fact, by opening his place to the masses, he’s able to differentiate Bull & Bear from the other sports bars in the area. “People rent out full restaurants. Literally, everywhere is rented out … It’s a nice thing to [not take reservations], when so many places are booked.”
By hosting an event that indulges guests’ every sports whim, the Bull & Bear team creates a memorable night no matter what team wins. “It’s about the entire experience,” Moon says. “At Bull & Bear, it’s like a Super Bowl party at your friend’s house.”