The Big Game: How to Craft a Menu for Your Restaurant

The big game is one of the most watched events in the country, thanks to the football, the commercials, and the riveting halftime show. The food at parties also tends to get a lot of attention, and as a restaurant, there are ways to create a menu that draws guests in. This isn't just true for sports bars—even nicer restaurants have found ways to capitalize on the big event. Here are a few different tips from restaurants across the country on how to create a really awesome menu for the big game.

Embrace the Pigskin and Beer

The team at FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar in downtown Minneapolis will be offering their version of football pigskins on their menu. They're creating a pig-centric feast for their guests to enjoy, and the plan is to roast a whole pig and offer dishes like pig tacos and pulled pork sandwiches. Chef Jim Kyndberg also partners with a local beer distributor to do a beer release around the event, which makes it even more fun for his guests, while also benefiting his partners and his bottom line.

Add in Some Friendly Competition

A great way to get in on the action is to add in a competitive element to your festivities on game day. Some restaurants will offer a gift certificate or discount to those who guess the right score, and others will have customers pick squares to encourage some friendly competition between guests. Howells & Hood in Chicago does a chili cook-off among local restaurants. They sell chili and beer in flights, and keep the participating restaurants anonymous. Guests can vote throughout the day and the winner is tallied that evening.

Let Guests Take It to Go

Plenty of people still love to watch the big game at home, so why not give them the opportunity to indulge in some of your menu offerings? If you're already serving up game-day dishes, it shouldn't be too difficult to offer these menu items to go. For example, offering a complete to-go meal with an entree, sides, dessert, and even beer would make it easy for home entertainers to take advantage of your special offerings. Even if your options don't correlate with football naturally, if you do any catering or picnic baskets, just simply rebranding them for the game can go a long way. After all, not everyone wants to eat just nachos and wings.

Create an Upscale "House" Party

Just because you run an upscale restaurant doesn't mean you can't have a little fun for the big game. Chef Ricardo Jarquin, of Travelle Kitchen and Bar in Chicago, takes the opportunity to put on his own "house" party that features sophisticated twists on game-day food. In the past, he has charged $75 for an all-you-can-eat-and-drink party, and he's offered menu items such as carne asada nachos, tater-tot poutine, and shrimp tacos.

With a little thought and creativity, it can be easy to create a fun and exciting menu for game day. Start with these tips and remember to stay true to the vibe of your restaurant. May the best team win!

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