How to menu around football season

Question: 

How are you building football season into your menuing and marketing?

Answers from FSD’s Culinary Council

Here in Oregon, we have quite a big rivalry between the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers called the Civil War. We divide the cafe in half; each side sports the colors of one football team, and the food is renamed to include something that is recognizable to each school. It is a lot of fun, and the staff really appreciates the culinary artistry supporting their schools.

—Gregory Gates
Executive Chef
Kaiser Permanente
Oakland, Calif.

As you can imagine, football is very big here in the Puget Sound area (home of the Seattle Seahawks), and we incorporate the season into our marketing and menuing for both Dining at Microsoft and catering and events in big ways.

During football season, Dining at Microsoft runs “Blue Friday” promotions: fans wearing team apparel are offered discounts, bounce-back coupons for visits after 2 p.m. and “Free Flag Plays,” where managers and associates hand out free meals and discounts.

Eventions (catering and events at Microsoft) also promotes a tailgate menu, offering a unique football-theme setup and food, including party subs, Skittles (in honor of Marshawn Lynch), local sodas and blue and green macaroons. This menu is very popular for breakout sessions and group snacks all season long.

—Craig Tarrant
Director of Culinary Operations
Compass Group supporting Microsoft Real Estate & Facilities
Redmond, Wash.

Our first home football game is on the Thursday during the first week of classes. It’s a tradition here that the entire freshman class is introduced en masse, and they storm the field prior to the team wearing matching T-shirts and cheering; then they all sit together for the game. We cater a huge tailgate for them just prior to the game, serving 1,600 people at the football practice field.

We also do a monthly birthday party in our dining halls inviting all of our guests to celebrate those born in that month. We decorate cakes and cupcakes with a theme, and September is always a football theme as we build some excitement around our team.

—Bill Claypool
Assistant Director/Executive Chef
Vanderbilt University
Nashville

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