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How chains hope to score a touchdown on game day—and the day after

Here are some of the most creative ways restaurant brands are trying to boost Super Bowl traffic.
Photograph courtesy of Walk-On's

Just because it’s the Super Bowl doesn’t mean the day will be a guaranteed touchdown for restaurant operators.

Especially as more consumers opt to watch the game from their couch rather than at a restaurant or a bar, operators need to get creative to drive traffic and boost check averages on game day.

“Your average Sundays will be higher than sports Sundays because people aren’t moving. You’re not flipping a restaurant,” said Tony Caballero, vice president of operations and training for sports bar chain Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. “They have this misconception that because it’s a sporting event, it’s your biggest day.”

To drum up excitement for the Super Bowl, Walk-On’s first sends targeted marketing to its regulars, inviting them to prepurchase a guaranteed seat or reserved table for game day. The money spent on the reserved seat can then be used toward food and drink purchases.

“It creates a buzz,” Caballero said. “You can literally create such a game day stadium feel.”

Plus, it provides a way to gauge how many seats will be filled, and it often boosts check averages because customers tend not to factor their initial investment into the game day check, he said.

Instead of giving away food and drink or offering big specials during the entire Super Bowl, Caballero recommends offering discounts targeted to specific in-game events (for example, $3 drink specials every time the home team scores).

For the first time, Walk-On’s is rolling out an off-premise Super Bowl promotion. The Game Day Tray features the chain’s four most popular appetizers and is only available for advance orders. There’s no sampler tray on the regular menu.

“It’s a case study, really,” he said.

Here’s a look at some other creative ways chains are trying to boost sales on and around Super Bowl Sunday.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, citing statistics that about 14 million people call in sick the Monday after the big game, is offering free delivery that day via DoorDash, along with a free Chocolate Chunk Pizookie on orders of $19.95 or more. The Super Sick Monday promo ensures that “those too sick to travel to work receive enough sustenance to get them back to work on Tuesday,” the company said in a news release.

jack-in-the-box

Photograph courtesy of Jack in the Box

Also trying to capitalize on day-after-the-game traffic is Jack in the Box, which is debuting the Super Jack’d Monday Box. The box, which includes tacos, chicken nuggets, an egg roll, curly fries and a drink, is available via preorder from DoorDash.

Pizza Hut hut

Photograph courtesy of Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut, in its first year as the NFL’s official pizza sponsor, is changing the signage at one Atlanta unit to “Pizza Hut Hut” and is launching a fleet of Super Bowl-branded delivery vehicles in the game’s host city. The Pizza Hut Hut branding will carry over to the chain’s website, social media channels and other marketing.

Burger King, which will air a Super Bowl ad for the first time in more than a decade, is also working with DoorDash to deliver a mystery box on in-app orders over $10.

chops salad six pack

Photograph courtesy of Chopt

Salad chain Chopt is hoping to find a place for its dressings on in-home Super Bowl spreads. It’s selling a Chopt Salad Six Pack with bottles of six different dressings along with recipe pairings (Sweet & Smoky Chipotle, for example, with chicken wings, and Greek Yogurt Tzatziki on the crudite platter).

Auntie Anne's, seeking to win the dine-at-home crowd, is offering a free snack stadium tray at select units with the purchase of a Game Day Pretzel Pack. 

If Sunday’s game goes into overtime, Buffalo Wild Wings will give everyone in America a free snack-sized order of wings on Feb. 18 from 4-7 p.m.

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