70 Event Ideas for Cafe Owners and Bar Managers

By Shane Devane | Updated: September 2021

Shane Devane

Barcelona | Spain | GMT+2

The Event Ideas List

1. New Mums Lunch — connecting new mums each month

2. Role-Playing Games Morning — D&D RPG always needs locations

3. Coffee Tasting Lunch — helping people to sample and try alternatives to their regular. Experimenting with different single-origin beans. e.g. Indonesian Sumatra vs Ethiopia Sidamo vs Colombian Supremo.

Photo by https://www.pexels.com/@juanpphotoandvideo

4. Experimental New Menu Tasting

5. Unique Seasonal Holidays — http://www.holidayscalendar.com/categories/weird/

6. Vegan Menu Tasting

7. Video Podcasting & YouTube Day — many new video podcasters are looking to get into video blogging. Unfortunately, they tend to lack a good place to record from. This will require a limited crowd for noise control and WiFi.

8. Startup Founders Night — entrepreneurship is mainstream. YC, Startup Grind has tribes in every city worldwide, but these focus on online/virtual engagement.

9. High-Protein Menu Tasting — co-marketing with a local gym

10. Celebrate Name Days — mostly a mainland European thing. On the day of the name day, set an hour in the morning for anyone with the name to join meet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_day

11. Mobile Gaming Night — WoT Blitz, Pokemon Go, The Walking Dead: Our World, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. There is a genre of location-based “geo” mobile games with a strong following.

12. Catan Board Game Day

13. Sci-Fi Trivia Night

14. Marvel/DC Trivia Night — tapping into the mainstream movies

15. Football Trivia

16. Whiskey Tasting Night

17. New Whiskey Launch

18. Sports Night

19. Pool Tournament

20. Darts Tournament

Photo by https://www.pexels.com/@pixabay

21. Paint ’n’ Sip — a new trend beginning to grow but requires a host to organize painting supplies. (Ebru art is entertaining but requires a skilled artist to host). YAY Maker is a licence for this https://www.yaymaker.com/

22. Book Launch — Amazon enables anyone to self-publish a book, but there are challenges with launching as traditional bookstores are few and far between. Having a monthly ‘self-published’ authors night to enable them to engage and share challenges with writing.

23. Mothers Lunch — connecting local mothers

24. Swap and Sell Afternoon

25. Book Night — Goodreads.com showcases the best of the best books each month and each year. Books that have a “series” tend to have a solid following. “Red Rising”, a sci-fi series, is an example (one that has a film in the making). Book Nights can focus on a book series and people swapping their first book in the series with others. You can give away the third/fourth book in a series as a way to encourage sharing. I would focus on sci-fi (biased) or fantasy if you can cater to a younger group.

26. Book Swapping Shelf “leave a book, take a book” — not an event suggestion but a method to engage customers. This can be incorporated into a book swapping event or a niche, ‘sci-fi’ book swapping.

27. Language Exchange Afternoon — it’s been a common experience for language tutors to meet students in cafes.

28. City Walking Tour — Walking tours are becoming popular in tourist cities. Supplying a walking tour map with your location as a stop-off point. In addition, you can advertise for a Tour Guide on your front window.

29. MtG— Might the Gathering is a card game with a large fan base of 20M+ globally. Typically promoted by comic book stores, it’s beginning to enter into mainstream gameplay (albeit maybe in 2–3 years).

Photo by https://unsplash.com/@wayneshin/@juanpphotoandvideo

30. Solo Night — One day a month dedicated to people travelling on their own. I would engage with a local hostel as a way to co-market. This would provide the hostel with an extra value-add for their customers. This can be combined with a Photography Night to help people interact if you have a projector available and provide each participant with a 5–10-minute photo display.

31. Ex-Pats Night — Connecting those that have immigrated from the same country and live in the city.

32. Ex-Pats <> Solo Night — connecting those travelling with those who have already immigrated.

33. ‘Meta Events’ — these are events to connect people so that they can plan an event. Inception for events. This is suitable for events whereby there is a level of organization required. For example, trail running, Walking Tours, Group Tours, Boat Trips, Retreat Trips. Better to be booked mid-week for an activity on the weekend.

34. Hackathon — an evening for software engineers, mainstream programming languages, Python, Julia, Ruby. Evenings or afternoons around these events will require WiFi and lots of coffee.

35. Marathon ‘Check-in’ — major cities organize marathons, part of the challenge is learning how to train for a marathon and keeping engaged (running for 2–3hrs at a time can be a mental challenge more than physical). There are running clubs that help organize runs and training. This can be combined with promoting local runners and league tables for the 5k, 10k, and half-marathon races in most cities on the build-up to their marathons. Marathing training requires an ‘LSD’, and a Long Slow Distance day is typically done at the end of the week/month. Promotion/Marketing around supporting runners after their LSD.

36. Cocktail making classes

37. Cooking classes — Pick a complicated meal from your menu.

38. Sorbet/Ice-Cream Co-Op— not something I’ve seen, but I have come across brew bars (Co-Op Brew Bar in Auckland) that will let people rent/co-own a beer keg of their own concoction and see how popular/unpopular it is. The same could be true for Sorbet/Ice-cream.

39. Trail Running — this is suitable if you are located near a suitable trail/mountain run and to promote your business as a stop-off location to re-fuel or de-fuel (toilets). Trail running requires isotonic water and running gels. If you are located near suitable running areas, it might be worth selling running gels. e.g. SIS GO ISOTONIC ENERGY GEL 30 PACK

40. Green Tea Tasting — providing green tea sampling trays during a particular timeframe each week. There is a strong culture with Green Tea, and many want to explore the differences.

41. Herbal Tea Afternoon — helping anyone explore the wonderful world of herbal teas. This can be particularly themed around Sleep as there is a range of herbal teas targeting the problem areas of Sleeping well. Helping people sample these teas. I would market this around the benefits of Sleep for marathon running and bodybuilding (if you are near a gym).

42. Maté — Maté is like coffee for Latin America. If you are in a location that attracts tourists, it will be worth experimenting with. Unfortunately, you will also need to purchase Maté Straws and Maté Cups for the proper experience.

43. Hobby Nights/Days — Experimenting with pastimes.

44. Speed Dating — if it works, it works.

45. Home Made Soap Swap — a sub-genre of people who create soap at home; this could be a buy and sell or a swap.

46. Small Dog Day- (careful here, small days like Chihuahua’s don’t like other dogs! expect a lot of barking).

47. Bring your Pet day — better suited for niche pets like reptiles and amphibians. Care would need to be taken with space and heat.

48. Bartending Show — thinking the film Cocktail

49. Barista Latte Art Show/Lesson

50. Cafe/Bar Crawl

51. Chess Game Day/ Go Games — there is a wide variety of people that play Chess, and most that I know also want to learn Go.

Photo by https://www.pexels.com/@gladsonfx

52. Picnic Day Packages- for locations near large parks

53. National Days Food Celebrations — promoting a national food day menu

54. Plant Swap/Snippet Swapping — a sub-genre of people who take plant snippets and enjoy seeing seedlings grow. These events can be ‘seeded’ by understanding the local wildflowers and bushes.s

55. Open Mic Night

56. Debate Night

57. Werewolf Night — Werewolf is a mystery game but can be noisy to play with a group. This is the sort of game that can be mixed with language nights or solo traveller nights (mentioned above). It’s a useful ‘mixer’ as players in the game take on different roles.

58. One-to-one Parents and Kids Morning — there is a particular need for activities for one-to-one parent-to-child quality time with their child outside of home surrounded by similar-minded parents. I have seen this be run with Lego Technics and Puzzle games whereby it’s a single parent (Dad) and child (boys). Again, this can be organized as same-sex or mixed (Mother and Son Days).

59. Photography Day

60. Cycling — If your location is suitable, you can encourage cyclists training for Triathlons/Duathlons to end at your location. You will require secure space for their bikes and potentially facilitate webcam wifi sharing of a security camera for their bikes (this can be easily done with a cheap USB webcam). Alternatively, let them bring their bikes in or facilitate a storage bike room (akin to a coat room) area.

61. Lawn games — if you have space outdoors to manage simple games that require 1 hand (the other hand for holding eating/drinking).

62. ESports

63. BarCraft —StarCraft is a popular computer game with an active professional circuit. BarCraft is the esports version. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarCraft_in_esports#Spectators

Photo by JohanRonstrom

64. Crochet & Coffee — bring your own knitting materials

65. Computer Game Inspired Tasting Menu — (yes, this is real), focusing on games like World of Warcraft, The Witcher, or Final Fantasy.

66. Hot Chocolate Aficionado

67. Retro Film Night — this will depend on whether or not you need a ‘non-theatrical film licence and/or a premises licence. A premise licence is typically only needed if you are going to charge tickets to see the film. You will need to check the laws in your country. You can check to see which films have expired copyright or are now public domain — but remember that film and media copyright can last anything between 75–95 years (unlike normal patent copyright, which can generally be 50 years).

  • List of Public Domain Films in the USA — for list of films in the USA - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_in_the_public_domain_in_the_United_States.
  • UK Independent Film Office — for information on licences for the UK - https://www.independentcinemaoffice.org.uk/advice-support/what-licences-do-i-need/

Some films have special copyright (creative commons). For example, see the Film Night of the Living Dead as an expired copyright film….. that said, during a film night event, you’ll always get people who talk during so you will need to manage the goal of the film night. Is it to watch the film, or is it to meet people who like watching the film and the film is more background entertainment?

68. Dating Events — ‘Dating Cafe’ — recently (June 2021) the Bumble App (like the Tinder App) started up a special cafe called Bumble Brew as a way to connect their App users offline. There seems to be a trend with connecting people in the online world offline. Granted, Bumble, Tinder, PlentyOfFish, Match.com et. al has the end goal of connecting people offline.

  • Dating App Bumble Will Open Its First Café in New York in July - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-30/dating-app-bumble-will-open-its-first-cafe-in-new-york-in-july

69. “PechaKuch” / Light-speed presentations — a special presentation format that uses 20 slides and 20 seconds each slide (20x20) enabling anyone to become a speaker and talk on a topic in a visual and entertaining way. PechaKuch is more designed for professional presentations but could be adapted as an open PechaKuch night or a themed night.

  • https://www.pechakucha.com/

70. 9Gag/Reddit/Meme generation — 9gag is an online community of almost anonymous people. They are a mixed and diverse range but passionate. People that use 9gag, reddit (and others) are constantly checking their phone for updates and engaging both passively and actively. This idea would need a facilitator (Gohono) — but simply enough, 9gag is a niche hobby for people that they do online. Having an ‘offline’ 9gag experience would give these online communities an offline space….

End of list…


If you could only experiment with 5 events?

These 5 events are distinct from each other and will help you understand the interests of some of your customer base.

Coffee Class — Short, 30minute timeslot each Week @ 11:00 am. This “event” opens the doors to specialized single-origin coffee sales and coffee aficionado clubs.

Language Exchange — an easy and effective way to bring a small group together. This opens the doors to ex-pats events.

Chess Games — Trial a small Chess gameplay session each month. This opens the doors to other strategy games.

Video Podcasting Timeslot — Promote that you have an off-peak time for people wanting to create content. If you are familiar with the “Private Jet Studio” and ‘Instagram Hotels’ you’ll understand the idea.

D&D RPG Gaming — D&D RPG is a rising trend, and new players need a public space to play as typically D&D is organized in people’s homes. Be forewarned games can take literal months to play — but that is also where the magic exists on weekly 3hrs sessions for new players if you can accommodate. Experimenting with D&D opens the doors to Esports.

About Gohono

During lockdown 2020 I built Gohono — a Social Groups Platform for Cafes and Bars — as I wanted to look toward the future. The idea started at the end of 2019, I was learning D&D and organized small 20 people sessions in a local cafe in Auckland, New Zealand.

“We would meet each week and play, and it was a great way to use the space in the cafe, drink too much coffee, and finish with a nice lunch”

About 'The List'

The purpose of this list is to help ideate! Both for myself and anyone else.

“inspire people to want to talk about the experience they had” — Redditor

If you have suggestions or have good/bad stories from organizing events, let me know and update the list.

Photo by https://unsplash.com/@wadeaustinellis

These events are a selection of what you can organize without a dedicated host. This list is in no particular order. Some of these events are best time-boxed or organized during off-peak times. i.e. the last hour of closing or early on a Sunday. Some of these ideas or just that. Ideas. And should be potentially left at just being an idea…but ideas can fuel better ideas.

I have included real-life examples of events in cafes — based on my work in Gohono — a Social Groups Platform for Cafes and Bars — “we increase customer retention and reduce the risk of organizing an event”

If you want to include an item email me contact@gohono.com

So, what is Gohono?

If you are interested in using events to help increase repeat customers and reduce the effort of organizing an event for your cafe or bar, then you might be interested in Gohono.

We have launched a ‘Social Groups Platform’ for Cafes and Bars — and we increase customer retention by connecting cafe/bar customers that share similar interests.

I (based in Barcelona) and my co-founder (based in Germany) are building www.gohono.com — we help cafe and bar managers reduce the risk of organizing events by first connecting their customers.

Gohono is a new way for cafes and bars to engage their customers. If you are interested in a free 3-month pilot program, please visit www.gohono.com.

Gohono — is a Social Groups Platform for Cafes and Bars

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