As football tailgating has become its own American pastime, operators are looking to court customers hosting tailgates with group dining options to go. From bundled meals to DIY setups, restaurants are offering fans ordering flexibility, menu variety and out-of-the-box options before they hit the stands. Here are some of the different ways operators are marketing to the tailgating masses.
Tailgating options on demand
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has expanded its popular Family Pack offerings to target the tailgating crowd. Its limited-time Tailgate Party Pack is a bigger version of the XL Family Pack the chain currently offers, featuring an extra pound of meat as well as larger quantities of sides and rolls. Rather than needing to order ahead, customers can order the Tailgate Party Pack on demand, both directly from Dickey’s or through one of more than 50 partnering third-party services, including GrubHub, DoorDash and UberEats.
Trying out new dayparts
Sports fans are hitting the field (and parking lot) earlier in the day, and to fill demand, operators are offering dishes from dayparts not generally associated with tailgating. Dead End BBQ in Knoxville, Tenn., menus a variety of tailgating packages, including The Early Bird, which includes a breakfast casserole for morning revelry. And McAlister’s Deli, which does not offer breakfast in-restaurant, provides morning items as part of its tailgating menu, ensuring a full spread that spans multiple dayparts.
Schlotzsky’s is helping tailgating become a full-contact sport with the introduction of its Snack Stadium. This year, the brand is showcasing a stadium built entirely out of Schlotzsky’s food, packaging and beverages. In a (literally) crafty play to help drive sales, the fast-casual chain’s catering website will feature an ordering checklist along with step-by-step instructions so diners can build their own Snack Stadium when their tailgating order arrives.
Bringing the party to fans
Jimmy John’s is joining in on the fun by throwing branded tailgates at game sites. The sandwich chain uses these live events, often held at universities with a Jimmy John’s nearby, to give away branded swag and free food, and to showcase its mini sub variety used in catering. “There is no substitute for person-to-person marketing,” Jimmy John’s spokesperson Nathan Louer says of the tailgating events. “It would be easier to do paid social or promote elsewhere, but actually talking with your customers, interacting and allowing people to see a face behind the brand is more powerful than images on a screen or on a page.”