Happy Birthday, McGillin's!

How a Philadelphia Institution Prepared for its 150th Anniversary

150th anniversary McGillin'sFor 15 decades, McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Philadelphia has poured brews, served patrons and supported the community. It’s safe to say the owners know a thing or two about hosting a great promotion. After all, no one stays in business long enough to mark a 150th anniversary without that skill.

To mark the bar’s sesquicentennial, hundreds of Philadelphians descended on the ale house for a birthday celebration at its Black-Tie Beef & Beer event.

The anniversary promotion was not taken lightly — planning began two years ago (but bar manager/owner Christopher Mullins, Jr. admits he’s been thinking about it for four years).

What goes into planning such a successful event? Nightclub & Bar took a peek at Mullins’ “diary of a promotion.”

June 2008
Set date: June 6, 2010, selected to coincide with Philly Beer Week; also it’s a Sunday, so there’s less business and less risk to shut down for a private event.
Develop theme: Black-Tie Beef & Beer, the brainchild of one of the bartenders.
Plan an attraction: Contact Budweiser to request Clydesdale horses.
August 2009
Set headcount: 250 to 300, including media and high-profile guests like state representatives and the governor.
Discuss details: Need to rent a tent for outside, find space for horses, design a menu (carved prime rib at a carving station) and plan live music.
Follow regulations: Request permits to block off a portion of the street as well as for outside beer and liquor service.
Contact brewers for sponsorship: Invite 29 regular brewers; focus on craft beer to go along with Philly Beer Week.