From caipirinhas to Roy Hodgsonthemed burritos, this summer's World Cup offers operators a huge opportunity to boost trade. Elly Earls reports
Feelings across the hospitality sector are decidedly mixed as operators start to gear up for the World Cup this summer. While FIFA's trademark regulations and England's (let's face it) slim chances have put a dampener on things for some, others are already getting into the spirit (both literally and figuratively), using the event as an opportunity to either showcase some of the incredible food, wine and liquors that hail from host nation Brazil or capitalise on the football fever that will inevitably take the UK by storm, whether England make it through the group stages or not.
Most football fans won't be making the long trip to Brazil this summer, giving the pub sector a rare opportunity to capitalise on what the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) estimates could add up to tens of millions of pounds of additional trade.
"England's opening game against Italy has an 11pm kick-off. We have lobbied the Government to consider extra opening hours across the country for this game, which happily they have now agreed to," says BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds.
"A lot of preparation is going into ensuring that as many people as possible can enjoy this exciting sporting spectacle at their local pub," says Simmonds. "All we need now is some fine summer weather and for the England team to deliver the goods."
At London-based pub andrestaurant group ETM Group, which employs nearly 500 people from all over the world, spirits are high and the banter has already started, according to marketing and events manager Jess Dahlin. But she isn't letting the excitement cloud her judgement.
"As with any major event, it creates an opportunity to increase footfall and boost revenue, so it is of course very important to have a clear plan of action and take advantage of this," Dahlin emphasises.
"Providing added extras such as themed menus and drinks, entertainment and party packages may be what makes a customer choose you over a competitor, so should be carefully considered. Moreover, the World Cup attracts a wide range of people, not just hardcore football fans, so creating the right atmosphere will be just as important as having a great screen and sound."
At the Well, one of ETM's 11 pub and restaurant venues in central London, a lot of thought has already gone into getting this balance right: not only will customers be able to enjoy a themed cocktail bar - the venue's very own Clerkenwell Cabana - complete with Brazilian food and drink, palm trees, tropical fish and, of course, giant screens; there will also be something for the football fanatics.
"For those who wish to host their own football party, we have put together party packages to make it as simple as possible for the organiser," Dahlin notes.
Meanwhile, at Grand Union Bars, variety will be key. "It's a time when the whole nation comes together and even those that don't really follow football are caught up in the excitement," says Grand Union's sales and marketing manager Naomi Best.
"This means that we can open our doors to hundreds of new customers."
Grand Union will be making the most of London's diversity, putting on themed food and drink offerings. "We will be tailoring packages to suit our customers. We will also have Brazilian cocktails, and cocktails from around the world, as well as a number of World Cup burgers representing different countries," Best says. The team at the Deck, the National Theatre's stunning rooftop events venue, who see the World Cup as a golden opportunity for creativity, have decided to go for a more holistic approach.
"Taking into account the location of the tournament as well as playing to the growing interest in South American food in the UK, we have developed the theme for our package to capture the essence of a Brazilian beach barbecue," notes head of hospitality and events Charley Taylor-Smith, adding that, if the 2010 World Cup is anything to go by, the venue can certainly expect increased bookings during 2014's summer months.
Because of FIFA's strict trademark laws, operators need to exercise caution when planning their World Cup promotions, as Jackie Grech, legal and policy director of the British Hospitality Association, is keen to emphasise.
Indeed, when she asked one group of hospitality directors about their plans for World Cup themed offers and marketing, they responded with a collective silence.
"It's an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the trademark regulations that creativity and atmospheric merriment around the sporty season is stifled, at least here in the UK," she says, adding that more themed events, special offers and Brazilian themed menus will no doubt get planned nearer the time, but she doesn't feel that they will be the centrepiece of summer promotional activity.
"Adding insult to injury, the outlook on England's chances to win have been less than positive," she remarks.
Bjorn Berkemeir, operations manager at Bodean's BBQ, doesn't foresee this as a problem, particularly for London-based operators.
"You always hope for a long run for England, but with London being so multicultural and football so popular, it is a win-win situation, especially for normally non-peak nights like Monday and Tuesday," he says.
At Mexican chain Benito's Hat, they won't be showing the games at all. "We are not a World Cup venue and we are not going to put in screens to compete with those that are. For us, it is about embracing the event and being there with great food and drink whether people are preparing to support, celebrating
after a win, commiserating after a loss or want to avoid those that are watching games," explains co-founder Ben Fordham.
That doesn't mean the group won't be getting involved though. "We are doing something that we feel really gets into the fun spirit," Fordham grins. "The Bur-ROY-to is our homage to the England team and its manager by putting our own twist on a traditional Sunday roast and making a burrito out of it. In
to the tortilla will go succulent roast pork and crackling, as well as a spicy apple sauce (salsa) and it will be delicious."
‘The perfect Caipirinha
By Robbie Bargh, founder, Gorgeous Group
The national drink of Brazil, despite its global fame, is a humble one. The name translates as 'little countryside drink', and makes good use of rustic Brazilian produce: lime, sugar and cachaÁ§a. Like any adored classic cocktail, the caipirinha can be subject to great debate and contention; should one use crushed ice or cubed ice? A pungent cheap cachaÁ§a or a softer, luxurious new brand adapted for the Western palette? Granulated sugar or a syrup?
Come to think of it: white or brown sugar? At Gorgeous Group we believe the drink should lack pretention, and while the different variables seem to be dictated purely by convenience, we have a preferred recipe.
Reach for an inexpensive and pungent cachaÁ§a, with plenty of character and attitude: brands like Germana and Velho Barreiro are good examples. Keep the flavour of the drink fairly bright and crisp, muddling the limes with granulated white sugar rather than brown, helping to extract essential oils from the zests.
Use one sugar cube but also a tablespoon of sugar syrup (so the drink isn't too gritty) muddled well with two-thirds of a lime or a whole lime, depending on the size.
At many of the beachside bars in Brazil you will be lucky to get any ice at all, let alone crushed ice, so do as the Cariocas do and use cubed or cracked ice, giving the mix a quick shake and pouring the entire contents into a stout rocks glass. No garnish necessary.
•2 shots cachaÁ§a
•1 lime (cut into eight)
•1tbs sugar syrup
•1 sugar cube
Muddle cachaÁ§a, lime and sugars well, shake briefly with cubed or cracked ice, and pour the entire mix into a sturdy rocks glass - sit down and toast Roy Hodgson!
Brazil pop-up diner world cup supper club events For London-based Brazilian PR and marketing expert Gizane Campos, the Brazil World Cup is a wonderful opportunity for hospitality operators to demonstrate just what her home country has to offer, beyond black beans and caipirinhas.
And that's exactly what she aims to do with the Brazil Pop-Up Diner, a series of supper club-style events, hosted at the Bedford and Strand in central London in collaboration with events company MargoCamilo. It is designed to take diners on a culinary journey through the 12 Brazilian cities that will be hosting this year's World Cup.
Between March and June, 11 Sunday events (two of which have already taken place) will feature a three-course meal inspired by one of the World Cup's host cities with cocktails by Leblon CachaÁa and music from the region.
Each event will showcase the menu of a different guest chef working with Brazilian products available for UK consumers to buy. So far, it's gone down a treat with guests.
"People really liked the fact it wasn't a Brazilian cliché, as you often find here in the UK," Campos says. "It wasn't just typically Brazilian dishes; we took inspiration from the dishes of that region, paired with European techniques, serving something that was full of flavour, elegant and Brazilian."
The series kicked off on 9 March with Recife, a coastal town in north-east Brazil famous for its sundried meat, guava
marmalade and exotic fruit, while the second event showcased food produce from the Amazon region where England will play
their first match of the tournament.
What makes Brazilian cuisine so special, for Campos, is its huge variety. "Brazil is a country the size of a continent," she says. "And the 12 Brazilian cities that will be hosting the World Cup each have their own unique cuisine, shaped by their geography and people."
Brazilian wine is now the time for it to make its mark in Britain?
The World Cup could be a great opportunity for Brazilian wine to make its mark in Britain, believes Miles MacInnes, director of sales and marketing for Jascots, a specialist wine supplier and sommelier to restaurants, hotels and caterers in the UK.
"We have already had enquiries from many customers, particularly in the catering sector, who intend to run Brazilian-themed food and beverage offerings during the World Cup," he says. "Then, when the World Cup is through, it's the Olympics next, so the Brazilian wine trade has a real opportunity to find a place in the heart of the world's wine lovers."
So, why haven't we heard much about Brazilian wine before? Says MacInnes: "The wines are quite rare. The entire country produces less than one quarter of the volume of Chile so Brazilian wines can be considered a niche product.
"They tend to be lighter in alcohol and crisper than other wines from South America and are very good for matching with food because of their fresh acidity. The style of Brazilian wine is mid-way between the Old World and New World - the subtlety and elegance of the Old World, with New World fruit flavours."
Kleber Magalhaes, managing director of North West Brazilian restaurant concept Bem Brasil, which has secured the exclusive
UK rights to the official licensed wine of the 2014 World Cup, Faces (pictured), is already ahead of the game.
When asked which food and drink he expects will be popular at Bem Brazil during the World Cup, he immediately responds: "Since our concept is of a steak house, I would say our barbecued meats already sell particularly well and will stand out even more when combined with the World Cup - adding a glass of Faces to it of course!"
Escaping the World Cup
Thinking of offering your customers a chance to escape the World Cup madness? You aren't alone. Ragdale Hall in Leicestershire and McMillan Hotels in Scotland are offering special 'escape' packages.
Vicki Taylor, marketing manager of Ragdale Hall, says: "Ragdale Hall guests are predominantly female - around 90% - and we organised a similar package during the last World Cup, which prompted some good bookings."
This year, Ragdale Hall is offering an escape day, which includes a facial, a three-course lunch, a glass of pink bubbly with tapas and the use of the hall's facilities and services, as well as a three-night break in its 'footie-free sanctuary'.
Similarly, McMillan Hotels' Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire and Cally Palace in Dumfries & Galloway are offering football-free short breaks for outdoor activity lovers.
"We have used this technique before with 'Escape the Olympics' and it brought extra bookings and increased interest in our website," Fay Cowan, director of McMillan Hotels, says