St. Patrick's Day - The Big Bad Hospitality Wolf

Mar 13 / Paddy McGuinness
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For bar and restaurant workers in Illinois, St. Patrick's Day on March 15th is not just another holiday – it's a day most of us working, dread. The public taking drinking to another level and celebrating like its the last day on planet earth. Its an event that requires careful planning, patience, and a keen understanding of the unique challenges it brings. As one of the most celebrated holidays in the state, St. Patrick's Day often sees an influx of revelers ready to paint the town green. However, with the festivities comes a host of issues that those in the hospitality sector must be prepared to tackle.

The Day that's in it...

The day itself requires a lot of planning and preparation. Most bars and restaurants will see capacity numbers through there doors for most of the day and the longer it goes on, the messier it tends to get. Most of us who have worked a Paddys Day know what to expect but for those who don't, here are some things to keep in mind and to plan for...

Increased Foot Traffic: 
Expect a surge in customers as people gather to celebrate.
Prepare for higher demand for food, drinks, and service.

Crowd Management: Maintain crowd control to prevent overcrowding.
Ensure fire exits are clear and accessible.

Alcohol Consumption: St. Patrick’s Day is associated with drinking.
Be vigilant about checking IDs and monitoring alcohol intake.
Arrange for designated drivers or alternative transportation options.

Special Menus and Decorations: Create themed menus with Irish-inspired dishes and drinks. Decorate the venue with green and shamrock-themed items.

Staffing and Scheduling: Staff appropriately to handle the influx of patrons.
Plan for longer shifts and potential overtime.

Safety Measures: Train staff on handling intoxicated customers.
Be aware of potential altercations and de-escalate situations.

Promotions and EntertainmentConsider live music, trivia, or other entertainment.
Promote St. Patrick’s Day specials to attract customers.

Preparation is key...

Preparation for Paddys Day would have started a while back for most, with advertising, entertainment booking and staffing. Here are a few recommendations to look at and double check before the weekend.

Staff Preparation: Ensure that your staff is adequately trained to handle the busy and potentially challenging atmosphere. This includes knowing how to diffuse tense situations, monitoring alcohol consumption, and adhering to safety protocols.

Enhanced Security: Consider hiring additional security personnel to help maintain order and address any issues that may arise.

Promote Responsible Drinking: Encourage responsible drinking by offering water, food, and non-alcoholic options alongside alcoholic beverages. Implementing a drink limit policy can also help mitigate excessive consumption.

Transportation Options: Partner with local transportation services or rideshare companies to provide safe transportation options for patrons who may be too impaired to drive.

Stay Informed: Keep abreast of local ordinances and regulations regarding alcohol service and public safety measures, and ensure that your establishment is compliant.

History and Statistics...

St. Patrick’s Day is a global celebration of Irish culture that takes place annually on March 17, commemorating the death of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. For over 1,000 years, the Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday. Traditionally, families attended church in the morning and celebrated in the afternoon, feasting on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

Who Was St. Patrick? Saint Patrick, born in Roman Britain, was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. He later escaped but returned, bringing Christianity to the Irish people. Legends surround his life, including the famous tale of explaining the Holy Trinity using a native Irish clover, the shamrock.

St. Patrick’s Day in America

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred not in Ireland but in America.
In 1601, a Spanish colony in what is now St. Augustine, Florida, held a parade.
Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in New York City in 1772 to honor the Irish patron saint. Today, New York City hosts the world’s oldest civilian parade, with over 150,000 participants.

Chicago’s Role

Chicago boasts two of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades globally. Modern-day celebrations are a post-World War II phenomenon, uniting Irish communities in festive spirit.

Irish Ancestry in Cook County:

438,350: The number of people living in Cook County, Illinois, who claimed Irish ancestry in 2019. This makes Cook County the largest in the nation in terms of Irish heritage.

St. Patrick’s Day Precipitation Odds:

Since 1950, the data gathered at La Crosse Regional Airport indicates that the odds of having any precipitation on St. Patrick’s Day in Illinois are 46.4% (70 out of 151 days) as they say, the Irish bring the weather with them. There has been measurable precipitation (0.01" or greater) on 42 St. Patrick’s Days (27.8%). Additionally, trace amounts (less than 0.01") of precipitation occurred on 28 St. Patrick’s Days (18.5%).

Chicago’s Festivities:

Chicago is one of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
The festivities kick off at noon on Saturday. The city is notable for dying the river green, a tradition that began in 1962 and involves 40 lbs of dye. The green color lasts about five hours. According to the National Retail Federation, 72% of young Americans aged 18-34 plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year.

Boston’s Irish Heritage:

Boston claims the title as the most Irish city in the country, with 20.4% of its population reporting Irish ancestry. It throws an impressive parade every year, and the South Boston Parade starts in “Southie” at 1 pm on Sunday.


In conclusion, St. Patrick's Day in Illinois presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges for workers in the hospitality industry. As establishments prepare to welcome a surge of patrons eager to celebrate, it's essential to recognize the crucial role that bar and restaurant workers play in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
From bartenders crafting signature cocktails to servers providing top-notch service, hospitality workers are the backbone of St. Patrick's Day celebrations. They work tirelessly to create a festive atmosphere while simultaneously managing the increased demand and potential issues that come with such a bustling holiday.
However, amidst the excitement, it's crucial to prioritize the well-being and safety of these workers. St. Patrick's Day often entails long hours, heightened stress levels, and a higher risk of encountering unruly behavior or alcohol-related incidents. It's essential for employers to support their staff by providing adequate training, resources, and support systems to navigate these challenges effectively.
Moreover, while St. Patrick's Day is undoubtedly a time for celebration, it's also an opportunity to promote responsible drinking and ensure the safety of both patrons and workers alike. Encouraging moderation, offering non-alcoholic alternatives, and implementing strict alcohol service policies are just a few ways that establishments can contribute to a safer and more enjoyable environment for everyone.
Ultimately, as the festivities wind down and the green decorations are packed away, it's important to recognize and appreciate the hard work and dedication of hospitality workers throughout St. Patrick's Day. Their commitment to creating memorable experiences for patrons deserves acknowledgment and gratitude. So here's to the unsung heroes of the hospitality industry – may your efforts be celebrated and your well-being prioritized, not just on St. Patrick's Day, but every day. Cheers! 🍻 #StPatricksDay #Illinois #HospitalityWorkers

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