As the official start of summer approaches, it's the perfect time for bar and club owners to reevaluate their offerings, refreshing their products and promotions. Patrons want to embrace all things hot and exciting during the summer months, so use what you have to your benefit. If you're a bar or restaurant owner, a promotion can revolve around your enticing patio, knowledgeable bartenders and well-trained staff. Daytime manager at Tavern on Rush Ron Kelley says the Chicago bar's revamped summer cocktail menu promotes the bar's exclusive outdoor patio.
A nightclub, especially a dayclub such as TAO Beach at The Venetian in Las Vegas, celebrates the official summer season with extravagant pool parties that welcome DJs, such as Erick Morillo and celebrities from Stacy Keibler to Jessica Szohr. TAO Group Partner Jason Strauss knows that these parties draw people to the hotspot during the day, encouraging patrons to stick around for nighttime shindigs.
TAO Beach in Las Vegas celebrates summer with Maxim Fridays. Photo courtesy of Al Powers/Powers Imagery.
However, even if you don’t have the ability to do all of these things, you still can start the summertime party early; as the sun heats up and the days get longer, the party never needs to stop.
1. Find good partners. Planning an event like TAO Beach’s Maxim Friday promotion can take months, especially when seeking good partnerships. For Maxim Fridays, TAO Beach has myriad options for every guest to enjoy. Maxim Fridays will feature a rotating schedule of cover model appearances, model searches and contests to kick off each weekend; winners of the events will be featured in Maxim or on Maxim.com.
Maxim's involvement was cultivated from a strong business relationship. “We have had a long-standing relationship with Maxim and have done many events with them at our venues in Las Vegas and NYC over the years," Strauss says. “We are always looking for local sponsors to do events in an effort to help promote local businesses.” Strauss says he expects to see between 5,000 and 7,000 people per week at TAO Beach this summer.
Kelley looks for vendors that will help with staff training at Tavern on Rush, but when seeking partnerships he looks for flavors that complement the cocktails. “It’s just a question of staying on top of the sellers and knowing your customer,” he adds.
2. The summer season is lucrative. In the Vegas club scene, diversifying your venue from the other clubs on The Strip is an important element to maintaining success. For TAO Beach that means extending the party to all hours. “Pool season is very important to the Vegas club scene as it allows us to extend our brand into the daytime and provide customers with an amazing experience at all hours,” Strauss says. “Big parties drive guests to the pools. Having the right programming ensures success throughout the summer.”
3. Be different. Strauss says TAO beach is different from other dayclubs in the city because TAO provides “unique programming set at incredible venues while offering top notch amenities and customer service.”
Tavern on Rush, however, knows that outdoor space makes a restaurant stand out. The updated summer cocktail menu is an accessory to the patio. “The reason [we update the menu] is because our seasons are so different at Tavern on Rush. We’re on the sunny side of the street. We have to focus on cocktails that are refreshing to drink and different from what other people have,” Kelley explains.
In Chicago, Tavern on Rush stands out from the competition with an outdoor patio and updated summer cocktail menu.
4. Highlight hot trends. Strauss says TAO keeps the party going by offering guests entertainment they want to see, appealing to a wide variety of clientele. “At TAO beach, we have Maxim Fridays and BPM Live on Sundays, while Saturdays feature contests and celebrities,” Strauss says. “Later this summer, we will be hosting the world’s largest bachelorette party at TAO Beach.”
For Kelley, staying on trend means making sure the cocktail menu features ingredients clients crave. “It’s all citrus and blueberries, citrus vodkas — cucumbers are a hit,” he explains, adding that agave nectar helps sweeten things up. Clients, he explains, want something “sweet and refreshing” and avoid the heavier spirits during summer.
5. Show off your assets. Tavern on Rush, in the heart of the Gold Coast in Chicago, is known for its patio. Kelley says people come out during the summer because they get to hang out “on the best patio in the city,” he says. “The drinks sell themselves.”
“The cocktail list is for the patio,” he says. “It’s so sunny, sought after and perfect. The wait is endless sometimes, especially on beautiful nights.”
If you’re using what you have to the fullest extent, it will pay off. Kelley says the patio is important because it cultivates loyalty. “Keep it young, interesting and they’ll come back and not want it another way,” he says.