Bars, Culture

Industry News Roundup: Bars Tackle the Busy Thanksgiving Eve Festivities

By Dave Eisenberg


Dave Eisenberg

December 1, 2017

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

When one of the busiest drinking nights of the year rolls around, it’s not business as usual.

Thanksgiving Eve, otherwise known as Blackout Wednesday, is one of the most famous drinking nights of the year. It’s a recipe for a fun night out; we’re traveling home, seeing old friends and family, and no one is working the next day. But, for the bars that host the droves of revelers, much more goes into Thanksgiving Eve than just showing up and raking in the cash. Lucky for us, a number of bars are sharing their secrets for managing Thanksgiving Eve. While the night has passed, their tips are worth stowing away for next year.

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The data behind Thanksgiving Eve

How much crazier is Thanksgiving Eve from the average night out? Upserve (one of BevSpot’s partners) analyzed the 2016 data from more than 3,000 restaurants and found that both liquor and beer sales increased by 114% and 270% respectively. Food sales also increase, but only slightly at 28%. It’s clear that Blackout Wednesday is more about the drink than the food.

How some bars are creating buzz around Thanksgiving Eve

So how did bars and restaurants prepare for Thanksgiving Eve 2017? It’s critical to start the night with adequate manpower. As Cassaundra Kennedy, manager of the Lodge in Tampa, Florida, told their local Fox affiliate, “We staff tonight like we would staff a big night, like New Year’s. It’s one of our busiest nights.”

Other bars are trying new tactics to bring even more people through the door. City Park Grill in Petoskey, Michigan heightens the atmosphere by hosting large music acts. “It’s my opportunity to try and bring someone bigger because I have a lot of people here to help cover it,” said manager Peter Sladick.

City governments are also getting involved in drumming up excitement about Thanksgiving Eve. According to the Washingtonian, nearly 200 bars throughout Washington, D.C. were approved for a late night extension that enabled them to stay open until 4 am on Thanksgiving Eve, two hours longer than the typical 2 am closing time. The late night holiday exception was first implemented there in 2012 before Columbus Day as a way to raise additional revenue from alcohol sales.

Thanksgiving Eve safety

We’d be remiss not to mention the safety concerns that come with a night of increased drinking and how some towns are addressing it. Uber partnered with Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon to create the SI Safe Ride initiative. “Between 6 pm Wednesday, November 22, and 6 am Thanksgiving, Staten Island residents can use the promo code ‘SISAFERIDE’ in the Uber app for two free rides worth up to $15 each.” AAA has been offering their Tow to Go program in select regions since 1998. This program offers a free, safe ride for you (and your car) to a location within 10 miles. Promoting available safety initiatives is just as important as promoting drink specials on Thanksgiving Eve.

How did your bar celebrate the occasion? What worked? What didn’t? What will you do differently next year?

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