The holidays are a tricky time of year for owners and operators in the hospitality business. Loyal guests may be out of town and people just visiting may not know where to go, but by creating a community, bar and nightclub owners can attract patrons for all kinds of holiday events.
In fact, Strangelove’s, in Philadelphia, is entering into the holiday season for the first time this year and are planning for a New Year’s Eve beer bash. Tickets are $125 per person and include passed hors d'oeuvres, a four-course meal, an open beer bar and a midnight toast. With this being their first New Year’s Eve event, Leigh Maida, owner of the beer bar as well as three other bars in Philadelphia, is hoping that a prime location in Center City as well as the large space will attract enough people into buying tickets for the celebration.
Photo By Kathryn Poole
The hope for this inaugural New Year’s Eve event is to give guests something to do without being pretentious, Maida says. “The thing that makes this event different from any of the hundreds of other dinner reservations one could make for New Year’s Eve is that it’s sit down without being stuffy. And it’s fun without being overly casual,” she adds. Guests own their table for the evening, so they can dictate how the night turns out. They can come in when they want, while taking their time to enjoy the meal and beer list.
Indeed, this isn’t the first holiday event for Strangelove’s. In November and December, the team focuses on charitable giving, donating toys to shelters, buying Thanksgiving pies from nonprofit food provider MANNA and slowly rolling into a holiday schedule of events. In addition, Strangelove’s along with its three sister venues hosted Black Friday events, including an “Everything Went Black” dark-beer feature at Memphis Taproom; a beer brunch at Local 44; a brewery tap takeover at Resurrection; and deals on special beer at Strangelove. As Christmas approaches, there will be Boxing Day celebrations and a brunch with Santa.
But what does Maida do to ensure guests are going to participate in the event?
“We rely heavily on our mailing list and Twitter account,” she says, adding that they aim advertising toward the craft-beer drinking crowd who are loyal to a bar that offers up the esoteric beers they want.
More importantly it’s about trying to “create a community in everything we do,” Maida explains. “It’s kind of our cornerstone. We have a craft beer community for sure but also location-wise, we try to build a community.” Three of the four bars are in residential areas, which means Maida’s first priority is finding guests in those areas and “turning them into family,” she adds.
This starts with getting a head start on planning. October 1 is the starting line, she says. All the ideas are brought to the table, and Maida distills them into the calendar for the next few months. It’s a strategy that will hopefully attract locals. “I try to get the word out far enough in advance that people will plan to participate” but not so far out that customers would forget about it.
Nonetheless, the holidays are an exciting time for bar owners and, although, Maida fears that “people will get sick of hearing about an event before it happens,” the community she’s built is certainly excited to celebrate.