Ideas for bar and restaurant events in 2018

Ideas for bar and restaurant events in 2018

Events are a great way to draw customers to your business, whether on a slow weeknight or a huge holiday weekend. But with all the hustle and bustle that comes with running a successful bar or restaurant, it’s not always easy to think up new event ideas. Read on for our top ideas for bar and restaurant events in 2018.

Why Events Matter

Let’s start off with a few reasons to host events in the first place. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably already convinced that’s the case, but you may not know a few key facts:

  • Events Increase Guest Satisfaction: 61% of adults would rather spend money on an experience than on items (Source: National Restaurant Associate 2017 State of the Industry).
  • Events Drive Spending: 57% of millennials will pay more for exclusive events (Source: Accenture 2017 Loyalty Study).
  • Events Inspire Loyalty: 47% of millennials are more loyal if you provide unique experiences (Source: Accenture 2017 Loyalty Study).
  • Events Boost Crowd Size: Events give people a “reason” to come in on days when they otherwise wouldn’t. They also create urgency and drive people to show up at a specific time.

Types of In-Venue Events You Can Run

Ok, now that we’ve established why events are so great, we can dive into some fun event ideas for your business.


  • Poker: If you have a good amount of table space, a poker tournament could be a nice way to mix things up. Of course, you’ll have to make sure that you abide by all local laws!
  • Bar Game Olympics: Put together a series of bar games (flip cup anyone?), organize people into teams, and let the bar game Olympics begin! This is one of our personal favorites (we may have done this at our office).

Tap Takeovers

  • Partner with Local Brewery: Team up with a local brewery to have a tap takeover featuring their beer. We’re willing to bet they’ll be happy to hear from you! You’ll have to do some research to know who has enough variety to fill up enough of your taps, and knowing who the top local breweries are near you is a good idea anyway.
  • Brewer or Rep On-Premises: Take things up a notch by inviting the brewer or a representative from the brewery on-premises during the tap takeover. It’s a great way to create a connection between those who make the beer and people who love to drink it.

Live Music 2.0

  • Open Mic: Have an open mic night where the audience gets to vote on a winner who gets a prize (like a gift card for your business). While it’s still a great idea to book a live band, this isn’t always an option for some businesses.


  • Stoplight Party: At a stoplight party, guests wear the color of a traffic signal to tell others what their relationship status is. Green means they’re single, red means they’re in a relationship, and yellow means “it’s complicated.” Let the shenanigans ensue!
  • Speed Networking Happy Hour: The idea here is that everyone has a short time to sit and talk with one other person to get to know them at lightning speed. It’s a great way to have people break the ice without being stuck for too long in a conversation that’s not up their alley.

Theme Nights

  • Old School Hip-Hop: Blast some old school hip-hop and encourage people to dress up in their best 90’s attire. This is guaranteed to be a good time! You can apply the same concept to a classic rock or disco night too depending on what your style is.
  • Offbeat Holidays: Ever heard of National Cheese Lover’s Day or Singles Awareness Day? Most people haven’t, and that’s what makes celebrating offbeat holidays such a good time.

Tasting Experiences

  • Flight Night: If you don’t regularly serve beers (or cocktails for that matter) in flights it can be a nice change of pace to offer curated flights for an event. Flight pairings can be fun too, like pairing specialty beers or cocktails with a selection of desserts (Girl Scout Cookie pairings are all the rage these days).
  • Artisan Spirits: Hosting a tasting of a rare artisan spirit can be a perfect way to allow people to try a drink that might otherwise be out of their price range. You might also encourage people to try something new and create a unique experience for them in the process.

Live Trivia

  • Host it Yourself: There’s a ton of companies out there that will host trivia for you (and those are a great option if you don’t want to put in the work), but it can be even more rewarding to have your staff host a trivia night too.
  • Prizing is Everything: If you can offer some unique prizes for trivia winners it gives people an extra incentive to really get in the game. Some good prizes could be free swag from your business, a gift card, or a VIP ticket to another event that you’re holding in the future.


Be Charitable

  • Charity tap handles: One great way to contribute to a charity is to have a charity tap handle. You can donate sales of that particular beer to a particular charity, which is a great way to rally your community around a cause.
  • Battle of Bands for Charity: Another event idea that’s charitable is hosting a battle of the bands and donating all the proceeds to charity. It’s guaranteed to be a good time, and you’re creating a social benefit at the same time.
  • Charity Walk/Run After Party: Hosting an after party for a charity event like a walk or run is another great way to be involved in donating money to a cause. You can partner with the charity hosting the event to boost awareness too.

Bartender/Chef Faceoff

  • Bartender Mix-off: Have two of your bartenders face off in an epic mixology battle. You can even structure it in rounds where they have to make increasingly more difficult cocktails.
  • Chef vs. Chef: Similar to the bartender mix-off, this idea pits two of your chefs against each other. This can be a great way to highlight items on your food menu and let your chefs show off their skills.

While this list certainly doesn’t contain every single great idea for an event, we hope that these ideas can help you when it comes time to plan an event for your business.