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Posted on Friday, 17ᵗʰ May, 2024

As the footy season heats up, it’s obvious which pubs and clubs have worked hard in the preseason to meet the game-day expectations of thirsty and hungry footy fans. If your venue needs to shape up for the long season ahead, read on to find out how to quickly become a fan favourite.

Pubs, clubs and bars that are popular with footy fans fall into one of two categories: those with big screens and plenty of room to watch the footy at the venue itself and those that are popular for pre- and post-game gatherings of fans who watch the footy in-person.

Apart from a handful of exceptions, the popular sporting pubs, clubs and bars in all Australian cities except for Melbourne are heavily focused on providing a great in-venue viewing experience. In the southern city, footy culture has developed around live attendance at the game, so pubs are typically doing their best trade before and after matches. 

SMALL DISHES
Small dishes

No matter what’s driving it, the trend towards small dishes, share plates and snacking has taken hold. While some say it’s due to cost-of-living pressures, light meals can be an ideal option for footy fans. It is not surprising that we’ve seen huge growth in this part of the menu, with some footy pubs now offering as many starter dishes as main courses.

Kick a goal: Some venues are reluctant to offer starter or share menus, even if that’s what patrons are craving. The thinking is that smaller dishes reduce the overall customer spend. But it might pay to think in margins rather than spend. A small dish should be able to produce a similar if not better margin than a traditional main meal and, better still, it might encourage a footy fan to purchase food when they otherwise might do without.

Best on ground: The London Tavern in Richmond operates in the shadows of the MCG and does a brilliant job of serving footy fans before, during and after the game with a game-day menu that covers all bases.

BEER AND FOOD PAIRINGS

As beers become more diverse and flavours become more experimental, helping patrons make good choices around food and beer pairings has never been more important (or more appreciated by diners). Long gone are the days of bars that only serve Toohey’s New, XXXX and Victoria Bitter.

Kick a goal: Most footy fans love a beer and there is no shortage of new lagers and ales to try. Your venue can improve the experience for patrons by pairing your tap beers with meals that are complementary. The more appealing you can make your food offer, the longer patrons will stay and the more profitable your visitor count will become. For some expert advice on beer and food pairings, click here.

Best on ground: Brisbane Brewing Co. in Woolloongabba makes no secret of its desire to improve the beer and food experience through perfect pairings. The venue even offers tasting paddles to allow patrons to sample several flavours with their food. Best of all, the venue is just around the corner from the Gabba stadium and perfectly placed for hungry and thirsty footy fans.

DIVERSE DIETS

Footy fans wear a lot of different stripes, so it’s only natural that they will have a range of dietary needs. It can take just one member of a large group to have an unmet dietary requirement at your venue for the entire group to leave.

Kick a goal: Fortunately, it’s becoming easier than ever to make sure every fan who walks through the door leaves happy. Lots of pub classics are now easily adaptable to qualify as universal foods, with the likes of gluten-free buns, vegan sauces, and dairy-free cheeses making meal adaptations a snap.

Best on ground: The Courthouse Hotel in Newtown, better known as The Courty, loves its live sport and makes sure it looks after footy fans of all dietary persuasions, including those who go nut- and dairy-free. In fact, nearly half of its menu is vegan or can be optioned to be vegan.

STAND, HOLD AND EAT

Large gatherings of sports-mad supporters typically have everyone on their feet, especially when a spectacular try or goal is scored. It’s clear that this is no place for fine China, linen napkins and sterling silver cutlery! Instead, easy-to-handle food is the order of the day and there are meals that should be first-choice selections on your menu.

Kick a goal: Shackling footy fans to the table with a strictly sit-down menu robs your venue of atmosphere. Instead, make sure there are meals on your menu that are easy to handle for hungry supporters who are on their feet. Share dishes and grazing platters are one way to go, but handheld meals for one, such as sliders, burgers, subs and sandwiches, also fit the bill.

Best on ground: With its huge beer garden that is standing room-only on match days, Perth venue The Camfield leads the way in stand, hold and eat food. The Camfield’s ‘bar bites’ menu offers easy-to-eat arancini balls, BBQ beef sliders and fried chicken wings, while its burger menu invites footy fans to have a beer in one hand and an Angus beef or Cajun spiced chicken stack in the other.

We share research, show you clever ideas from venues around the country and help you put together a menu that will have the footy fans cheering. 

Click here to download the guide for free!

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