by Laura-Andreea Voicu

With March Madness fast approaching, you need to prepare your restaurant for the incoming flux of people who are looking for a place to watch the game, eat good food, and enjoy cheap beer.

We’ve prepared ten March Madness restaurant promotions that will help you attract the basketball-loving crowd.

What Is March Madness?

If you’re not familiar with the term March Madness, it refers to the time of year when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournaments are held. It typically starts in mid-March until the beginning of April (hence the name).

For basketball fans in the US, this is an exciting month as 68 teams all over the country compete in the single-elimination tournament.

The games take place over 3 weekends, but only 16 teams make it past the first. By the second weekend, there are only 8 in play, followed by the “Final Four.” The two semifinal victors face each other in the national championship game.

Why You Should Celebrate March Madness at Your Restaurant

More than 10 million people watch March Madness games every year, whether out to bars and restaurants or at home with their friends. One thing’s certain: there’s going to be food and drinks.

In fact, beer sales increase by 19% during this time. And what goes great with beer? Chicken wings, burgers, sliders, and pizza.

March Madness is a great opportunity for your restaurant to stand out from the competition by becoming the place to gather and watch the games, or the main provider of takeaway food.

March Madness marketing can help you attract new customers and boost sales by joining one of the most popular sports tournament celebrations in the world.

10 March Madness Restaurant Promotions & Ideas for 2024

How do you advertise March Madness at your restaurant? By adding typical game-watching dishes to your menu. Here are a couple of March Madness food ideas you can try:

  • Chilli dogs
  • Mini burgers
  • Nachos and different kinds of dip
  • Chicken wings
  • Chicken fingers
  • Jalapeno poppers
  • Pulled pork sandwiches
  • Mini pizzas
  • Sliders
  • S’mores
  • Caramel popcorn
  • Brownies

2. Offer March Madness bar promotions

March Madness is the perfect opportunity for you to implement Happy Hour. Offer discounts on all beers, but also on other drinks for people who want to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail.

You can also come up with exclusive March Madness drinks with names inspired by the tournament, such as:

  • The Big Dance (a popular nickname for March Madness)
  • The Sweet Sixteen (referring to the 16 teams that make it past the first weekend)
  • The Elite Eight (referring to the 8 teams that make it past the second weekend)
  • The Final Four (referring to the teams facing each other in the semifinals)

3. Brainstorm creative March Madness marketing slogans

One way to promote your March Madness menu and promotions is to come up with catchy slogans that will stop people in their tracks and make them want to give your restaurant a chance.

Whether you post them on social media, on flyers that you distribute in the neighborhood, or even in paid ads, they will surely draw attention to your restaurant.

Here are some examples for inspiration:

  • Brackets, basketball & beer: 50% off our house beer on March Madness final weekend
  • Take the Perfect Shot: 30% off all shots for the entire March Madness tournament
  • Score big with the Big Madness burger: double the ingredients, double the fun

4. Organize watch parties

What would NCAA March Madness marketing be without a watch party? The good news is you don’t have to own a sports bar to do it.

All you need is to install one or more TVs (depending on the size of your restaurant) to ensure everyone has a clear line of sight to enjoy the games.

March Madness is a communal experience that brings people together. Let your restaurant be the place they gather to.

5. Offer exclusive game day promotions

Offer March Madness restaurant promotions to attract more people to your restaurant and get them to spend more. Tempt them with irresistible offers, such as:

  • Buy one beer, get one free
  • 15% off all finger foods
  • A free beer with any meal
  • Fixed-price appetizer platters to share with friends
  • Free dessert for orders over $50

March madness food ideas

6. Sell meal bundles and combos for takeaway

Some people prefer to watch the games at home, with their friends or family. Those people will probably order food to share, so why not encourage them to order from your restaurant by offering special discounts and prices for big groups?

Food combos and meal bundles can feed the entire family without breaking the bank.

march madness pizza deals and burger offers

Add a March Madness combo offer to your menu Use our promotion templates for food delivery & pickup

Here’s how easy it is to create combo offers using our free online ordering system:

7. Organize contests and giveaways

Spice up your March Madness marketing ideas with a fun contest such as the person who shows up wearing the most team merch drinks for free that evening.

You can also organize a giveaway where people predict which 16 teams will make it past the first weekend. The first five people who get the most correct win a discount coupon code for an online order.

That way, you increase the chances of people ordering from your restaurant to take advantage of the discount.

It’s easy to create restaurant coupon codes with GloriaFood. Just follow these simple steps:

8. Decorate your restaurant to get people into the March Madness spirit

Celebrating an event like March Madness goes beyond enjoying the food and drinks. People who are passionate about the sport will love to see your restaurant decorated for the occasion with basketballs, foam fingers, t-shirts, balloons, and so on.

You can also prepare your restaurant for the finale by decorating it in the colors of the two remaining teams.

9. Install a basketball arcade machine to max out the fun

Customers will come to your restaurant to watch the game. But what if they could play their own game after it’s over?

Bringing in an arcade game that allows them to shoot hoops all night long will elevate the experience of celebrating March Madness in a restaurant. Plus, the more time customers spend there, the more food and drinks they’ll order. Win-win!

10. Advertise your March Madness restaurant ideas on social media

If you want your March Madness restaurant promotions to be seen by more people and help your restaurant stand out, you need to advertise them on social media.

Post about the plans you have for March Madness well in advance to give people time to make plans and yourself time to tease your menu specials, promotions, discounts, and events.

Share a sneak peek of the wings special that will only be available for March Madness or a short clip of your bartender pouring a glass of beer to let customers know it will be half off.

Rely on photos and videos because they do speak louder than words and will make customers crave your menu.

That’s a Wrap

Were you considering sitting out March Madness this year? Don’t. Instead, open your doors to basketball enthusiasts who like to watch the games at a restaurant. Offer menu specials, discounts, and other surprises to make their experience legendary.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.