Although many of us know Oktoberfest as a yearly German beer festival held all over the world, it began as a local Bavarian custom held exclusively in Munich, Germany. It was a 16-day long event at the end of September/ beginning of October that featured a number of attractions, events, and traditional German food and drink.
Today bars and restaurants can get in on the Oktoberfest fun too! People now take to the streets during this festival much the same way they do during notorious drinking holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo.
Don’t miss this opportunity- with a few menu additions, some festive décor and a dash of advertising, your bar can get in on the cash that will be flowing this fall too.
Many American beer makers will put out great yearly German style beers (New Belgium, Sam Adams, Shiner) but it is still essential to include some authentically German beer behind the bar at your Oktoberfest as well.
Some German beer favorites are the Paulaner Oktoberfest, Märzen Hofbräu, and the Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen. While German in origin, these beers are very popular in the United Stated and can still be easily acquired for your event. Your patrons will expect and appreciate authenticity in your Oktoberfest beer selection.
Bratwurst, sauerkraut, soft pretzels, and strudel are great places to start with your German spread. Some states require food to be served at every bar, but even if you are not subject to such a regulation food can be an excellent secondary source of income.
Customers are especially prone to order food along with their drinks during events where they are bar hopping and consuming large amounts of alcohol over long periods of time. Even if you do not normally offer a full menu at your bar, pretzels for example only require countertop equipment that’s easy to use and doesn’t take up a lot of space. Take advantage of your snacking guests while enhancing your Oktoberfest credibility!
Get the Word Out
There are a ton of great ways to draw in the crowds to your Oktoberfest event. For your regulars, a notice on your calendar of events is a great place to start. Even drawing up some basic flyers advertising any specials you will be running can spread the word about your event far and wide. To snag new customers, see if there are any local Oktoberfest bar crawls you could join. Just by getting your name on the list of bars in a crawl could bring in hordes of new (and hopefully returning!) customers.
If you do not have the budget for traditional advertising, even a large sign or banner outside during your event advertising “$5 German Beers all Weekend” will grab the attention of bar hoppers passing by. You don’t necessarily have to spend loads of cash to get customers in the door during Oktoberfest.
Get Your Bar in the Oktoberfest Spirit
Make sure your venue and your employees are prepped and ready to go before the big event. Adding some German décor inside (maybe a few steins behind the bar?) and some visible additions outside (balloons or a sign?) can really bring the crowds in. If you are able, having your staff dress up a little can really drive the Oktoberfest atmosphere home as well. Just by adding some lederhosen here or trachten socks there can make the event a lot more fun for both you and your patrons!
If you do not normally serve large amounts of beer it is also a great idea to stock up on some traditional German style beer glasses and mugs. Although most patrons wouldn’t mind getting their German beer in an American style pint glass, authentic details really add to an Oktoberfest event. Beer mugs, goblets, and steins are great investments for your glassware collection even after the event is over.
The celebration of German culture through Oktoberfest doesn’t have to only be for those able to put on a full blown festival. Bring Oktoberfest to your bar this September with some simple additions to your taps and décor. Have fun with the tradition and enjoy the cash that will be flowing alongside the beer!