Restaurants poised for a busy St. Patrick’s Day

More than 25% of Americans to celebrate by going out to bars or restaurants

Move over Valentine’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day is turning into a major holiday for restaurants and bars.

More than a quarter of Americans plan to visit a restaurant or bar on March 17, according to a National Restaurant Association study released Wednesday.

“Restaurants and bars that offer St. Patrick’s staples like green-colored beer and Irish stew are likely to be very busy next Thursday, as a significant number of consumers indicate they will seek out locations featuring such items,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA’s research and knowledge group.

From independent bars like Mulleady’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in Seattle to chains like Kona Grill, restaurateurs were looking over a four-leaf clover with the holiday coming mid-week and coinciding with the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament.

Kona Grill of Scottsdale, Ariz., plans to again offer its “Patty O Party,” at its 25 units in 16 states. From 11 a.m. to closing, Kona opens its patios to an “all-day happy hour, gift certificate giveaways and exclusive food and drink offerings including our ‘Lucky’ sushi roll, green sake bombers, green beer, Irish car bombers and Guinness specials.”

While green beer and Irish fare are St. Patrick’s Day staples, the NRA’s research found the top destination on March 17 for more than 30 percent of respondents would be their favorite bar or restaurant, regardless of whether it had an Irish theme.

Nearly as many, at 29 percent, said they favored a restaurant or bar that offers St. Patrick’s Day menu items, such as green beer or traditional Irish food. Women were almost twice as likely as men to indicate food and drink were important when selecting an eatery, with women logging in at 41 percent versus men at 22 percent.

The NRA survey, conducted among 1,010 U.S. adults March 4-7, also found:

• 15 percent of those planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at a restaurant or bar said the most important factor to them when picking a location was whether it would be airing the NCAA college men’s basketball tournament. That was important for 18 percent of men, versus 10 percent of women.

• 12 percent of St. Patrick’s Day celebrators said they found St. Patrick’s Day decorations and Irish music the most important factor.

• 11 percent preferred their favorite Irish bar for the occasion.

• Men are more likely than women to plan to celebrate in a restaurant or bar: 35 percent compared to 20 percent.

• Younger adults also are more likely to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a restaurant or bar than older adults are: 41 percent of those 18 to 34 years old, compared with about 25 percent of those 35 and older.

Some special events planned at restaurants include:

• An extended March 17-20 menu of Irish lagniappes at Highpoint Bistro & Bar in New York City, with drink specials (pints of Guinness, usually $7, will be offered for $4) and chef Phil Deffina’s bangers and mash, made with house-made lamb sausage, duck-fat potatoes, red onion and blackberry marmalade with sautéed beet greens for $9.

• At Cuffs, an Irish Bar in The Back Bay Hotel in Boston, the menu was set to include: Toastie (with Irish bacon and hard cheddar cheese for $6); Cocktail Baby Sausages (a dozen sausages dipped for $11); Doyle’s Dublin Coddle (grilled Irish pork sausage with potato purée and bacon vegetable stew for $12); and Beef and Oxtail Irish Stew ($16).

• Tamo at the Seaport Hotel in Boston planned to offer the Irish-influenced band Geese in the Bog and such traditional Irish foods as corned beef and cabbage and shepherd’s pie as well as Guinness oyster shooters.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]