Some people call it Thanksgiving Eve, for others it’s Black Wednesday, but for smart bar and nightclub operators, the day before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest bar days of the year. Certainly, by merely existing, bars and clubs will do just fine in hitting their bottom-line goals, but thinking outside of the box will have Black Wednesday crowds coming to your establishment for years to come.
Mark Domitrovich knows this. As co-founder of Pioneer Tavern Group, which owns Lottie’s Pub, The Pony and Frontier, all in Chicago, he decided that Thanksgiving Eve was the perfect time to attract new crowds to his establishments, which is why he’s hosting the Black Out Black Wednesday Trolley Crawl on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at all three places; attendees can sign up at one of the bars to reserve a seat on the trolleys.
After holding a similar promotion during Cinco de Mayo of this year, Domitrovich and his team wanted to do the same for Thanksgiving Eve but with a little more panache and excitement.
“We always want to do something fun and different,” he explains.
Not to mention, Domitrovich knows that the hype behind Black Wednesday doesn’t necessarily translate into bigger profits. “A lot of people think Black Wednesday is the biggest bar-drinking day of the year but that’s more in smaller towns, not in Chicago,” he explains. “We need to capture the audience that’s still in the city.”
For this event, Domitrovich enlisted sponsors Malibu Rum and Amstel Light to help with costs. “It’s all free,” Domotrovich remarks, noting that Malibu is providing the trolley, and Malibu cocktails and Amstel Light will be available on the trolley throughout the night.
To differentiate this event from the Cinco de Mayo bar crawl, each individual location is holding its own promotion. There will be karaoke at Lottie’s, a Chicago Blackhawks watch party at The Pony, featuring the Blackhawks Ice Girls and a special appearance by Gene Honda, the voice of the Blackhawks. The final stop at Frontier will feature live music, plus a patio campfire with s’mores and more. Drink specials including $4 Malibu Blacks, $3 Amstel Lights and $5 Avion Shots will be available at all locations.
“We want to make profits, but we want to make it as fun as possible for people,” Domitrovich says, yet it wasn’t easy. “It took a couple months to plan everything — to get the liquor companies and try to work out all those details, in addition to coming up with the idea.”
Additionally, a well-trained staff plus more security will keep the crowds calm on Black Wednesday, Domitrovich says, while marketing on Facebook and Twitter, as well as email lists and flyers are being used to alert patrons about what they can expect come Thanksgiving Eve.
Attracting crowds to your bar on Black Wednesday may seem simple, but it’s a perfect time to highlight what your bar or club does best and takes some time to plan. New crowds mean higher profits and more return customers, and that’s something to be thankful for.