More than one-quarter of Americans say they plan to visit a restaurant or bar this St. Patrick’s Day, according to new research from the National Restaurant Association. The research also shows that the majority of those consumers will pick their favorite place—St. Patrick’s Day theme or not—or an eatery that offers special St. Patrick’s Day fare on March 17. 

“This year, restaurants and bars that offer St. Patrick’s staples like green-colored beer and Irish stew are likely to be very busy next Thursday, as a significant number of consumers indicate they will seek out locations featuring such items,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “However, many restaurants and bars can expect to see their regular guests for the occasion, as ‘your favorite restaurant or bar’ was the most common important factor for picking a place to dine on St. Patrick’s Day.”

When asked about the most important factors in selecting a location for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, 31 percent said they prefer their favorite restaurant or bar, regardless of St. Patrick’s Day theme. Nearly as many (29 percent) said they favor a restaurant or bar that offers St. Patrick’s Day menu items, such as green beer or traditional Irish food. Women were almost twice as likely as men to indicate that they find food and drink most important when selecting an eatery (41 percent versus 22 percent).

In addition, 15 percent of those planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at a restaurant or bar said their most important factor for location selection is a place that will also be showing the national men’s college basketball tournament. Men were more likely than women to agree (18 percent versus 10 percent).

Twelve percent of St. Patrick’s Day celebrators said they find St. Patrick’s Day decorations and Irish music the most important factor, and 11 percent prefer their favorite Irish bar for the occasion.

Overall, 28 percent of adults said they plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a restaurant or bar. Men were more likely than women to say they would; 35 percent compared with 20 percent. Younger adults are also more likely to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a restaurant or bar than older adults; 41 percent of 18-34-year-olds, compared with roughly one-quarter of those 35 and above.

The National Restaurant Association surveyed 1,010 American adults on March 4–7 about their plans for St. Patrick’s Day 2011.

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