When Patricia Beggiato took over the Darlington House in Washington D.C., she knew the restaurant and bar’s demographic was upscale but also included a neighborhood contingent of local sports lovers. For that reason, she separated the venue into three distinct areas: a cantina downstairs with flat-screen TVs, a more formal dining room with a circle bar area for pre- and post-dinner drinks, and a formal library space for private events. During the Washington Capitals’ 2009 hockey season, Beggiato noticed a lot of patrons discussing depressing things like swine flu and the economic downturn.
“We needed something to lighten the mood,” she muses. So Beggiato announced to the crowd that, beginning with the Capitals’ final game against the New York Rangers in the NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, for every Capitals’ goal, each person would get a free beer.
The promotion ran for eight games, until the last game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Washington scored five goals in one of the bouts, meaning Beggiato handed out five rounds of free brew.
“It was lots of regulars and also new people who heard about it on Web,” she says. “We filled the cantina and had people packed in dining room, as well. I would definitely do this again next season.”
The beer sponsor was Miller Lite, and while the thirsty patrons went through an average of three kegs a game, the Darlington House’s food sales shot through the roof.
“It’s a great way to give back to your patrons, and we all know you have to give to get back.”