It isn’t often that two of the most important (drinking) days of the year fall on the same weekend day. When those two events collide, there is a chance that chaos will throw things into a tailspin. But savvy bar operators know that from chaos often comes the most remarkable of events.
This year, as operators start to plan their promotional calendar, they will notice that two events — the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo — fall on the same day, offering a conundrum. The annual horse race draws fans who love big hats, fast horses and mint juleps while the decidedly Mexican celebration attracts patrons who expect 100% agave tequila to dance on their palates.
This could pose a problem for other bar owners, but for management at PorkChop in Chicago, it was an easy decision.
“They fall on the same day,” Andy Tsoukalis, general manager of the Southern-style restaurant says matter-of-factly, but that only enhances the experience, ultimately raising the stakes.
“We decided to do a Mint Julep (for the Kentucky Derby),” he says. And with more than 40 whiskies on the menu, crafting the cocktail is easy. The half-price Mint Julep will be served alongside a half-prized Tornito tequila shot “in honor of Cinco de Mayo” Tsoukalis says.
The establishment also has three TVs that will be playing the horse race during the afternoon.
New to the Chicago restaurant scene — “We opened in June,” Tsoukalis explains — PorkChop is figuring out what promotions work for them, so it made sense to celebrate both Cinco de Mayo and the Derby, as the restaurant continues to differentiate itself from other bars along Chicago’s restaurant row.
Besides serving half-price signature drinks that are identified with each holiday, PorkChop also will host a local band to play into the wee Chicago morning hours.
Tsoukalis hopes this all day and night celebration will bring new faces to the restaurant to show off PorkChop’s other great promotions.
May is National Barbecue month, Tsoukalis says. Throughout the month, he says, the restaurant will be serving half-priced barbecue, as well, for guests to try.
The derby and Cinco de Mayo promotion also will be a good time for Tsoukalis to show off PorkChop’s new spring cocktail menu, which debuts a few weeks before the event.
With a strong word-of-mouth marketing effort and a neighborhood that boasts some of the best restaurants in the Windy City, Tsoukalis is ready to take over Chicago one holiday at the same time, it seems.
“We’re just trying to do our part,” he adds. “We want it to be a fun Saturday Derby Day, a fun Cinco de Mayo. If we can reach out and touch new customers, as well, then it will be a fun day.”
“We’re not a derby place. We’re not a Mexican place,” Tsoukalis explains. “It’s just a fun day. It’s a day of drinking. We hope for a fun party all day and all night.”