Pubs and bars are a dime a dozen. To get an edge on the competition, you'll need to lure patrons with more than just booze and dim lighting. Consider adopting a few theme-night ideas to raise interest in your pub and potentially draw lots of repeat business.
Draw the most creative patrons with a recurring costume night. Change the theme every week. Include easy, popular themes such as Hollywood glamour or country and western, as well as something challenging but fun, such as antebellum or futuristic costumes. Hold an occasional couples' or group-costume night with a costume theme from the movies, TV or literature. Hold a contest for the best costume. You could also have a masquerade theme, especially around Mardi Gras; encourage patrons to wear masks all evening. If it's possible and appropriate, arrange to have music playing that's related to the costume theme.
Nothing engages people quite like a competition. Traditional bar competitions, such as a wet T-shirt contest, billiards or darts, can be a good way to start. You could also hold a bar-game tournament every other weekend, such as beer pong. Karaoke competitions are nearly always popular with pubgoers as well. Or, try a bartending competition. Charge a cover and let everyone taste the concoctions, then vote on the best. You might also try a poker tournament or a group trivia night.
Parties and Themes
Have a themed party inside your pub or in an unlikely location. Host a slumber party; tell patrons to come in their pyjamas, have candy and pizza on hand (in addition to drinks), rent a large projector screen and show movies or an important game. Replace some or all of the bar stools and tables with old cushions and pillows.
Or, turn your pub into a 1920s speakeasy. Post the password in the local newspaper, tell patrons to dress accordingly and serve drinks of the period. Draw an especially large crowd by offering drinks at 1920s prices, at least the first round.
Use your pub to raise awareness, spark creativity and get people involved. Host a kissing fundraiser for charity; ask attractive locals to volunteer and charge one dollar per kiss. Or, hold a graffiti night. Cover the walls in white sheets or tell everyone to wear a plain white T-shirt; then supply the spray paint. Charge a cover for expenses.
Hold a speed-dating event for singles. Charge a per-person fee and give drink discounts to participants. If you have a dance floor, you could also hire professional dancers to give dancing lessons on a specific night or every weekend -- ballroom, line dancing or tango can all help draw patrons.