The Taste of River North
The Taste of River North Street fest began in July 2009 (my first summer at Citizen) and was placed 3 blocks West of Citizen Bar. It typically brought an extra 5,000 people to the neighborhood during the hot summer nights of July and quickly became the highest grossing weekend of the year at Citizen.
At first, this was just another streetfest for the neighborhood & for Citizen. Year’s 1 & 2, Citizen was just another vendor serving mini-burgers and street corn. However this placed great stress on our kitchen & management as it was difficult to handle the volume at the bar and at the street fest.
So in 2012, we renegotiated a deal with the street fest operators to allow Citizen to take over the Beer Tent. I worked to rebrand the fest, give it more energy and make it a better event for Citizen. I staffed the beer tent not only with Citizen workers, but regulars of the bar & some our immediate neighbors. This gave these customers a chance to be on the same side of the bar as their favorite bartenders/servers. It strengthened the bonds between bartender & customer. For years since 2012, the same regulars have worked the beer tent. Many others have joined them over the years, as well as former staff members who come back to work the fest. There is now a community of Taste of River North workers, both staff and customers.
Additionally, I volunteered our services to the Taste of the River North, FREE OF CHARGE. All bar proceeds go directly to the River North Neighborhood Association. In the first year we doubled beer sales that they had done in the past. In the second, we doubled that total. You can imagine how happy the association is with this. And I can't think of a better Association for a bar in Chicago to make happy than their Neighborhood Association.
In exchange for our volunteer services, I negotiated that every cup that was used at the street fest would have a Citizen Bar logo on it. So at peak hours, when the bulk of the people were there to watch the bands, thousands of logos were walking around the street fest in the hands of our target market, representing our brand in the exact fashion we would like to be perceived. We typically went through 50K cups.
Finally, I negotiated deals with liquor vendors to put their product on special all weekend long at Citizen in exchange for the purchase T-shirts which were used as staff uniforms behind the bar at the street fest. Liquor can't be served at the street fest but can be served 3 blocks away at the bar so I exploited this sponsorship opportunity. And each year we threw an official afterparty with the sponsoring liquor donating drinks for all the street fest employees/vendors/volunteers/neighborhood association members...everyone involved in the fest. This would pack Citizen Bar on a the final Sunday night and put the icing on the cake of an already great weekend of sales.
Ultimately, my work with the Taste of River North transformed this weekend into the modern destination that it is for residents of River North and other Chicago communities. Through design, music & energy, Citizen has been a big part of making this event what it is today.
Taste of River North Cup
In 2014 we got creative with our logo and created a separate brand for the street fest.
Social Media Image
Used create excitement and gain volunteers for the beer tent
Flyer for the bar
This is a flyer for at the bar and at the street fest. We made one bar on our side patio a Grey Goose and Lemonade bar.
Promoting the Sunday night afterparty all weekend long on our T-shirts
Captain Morgan Social Media Tile
Captain Morgan Afterparty T-shirt Image
Captain Morgan After Party T-shirt Designs
Effen Sponsor and Afterparty Poster
Staff, friends, regulars and local company Right Size