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A tale of empty chili bowls and missed opportunities

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the 9th Annual MKE Chili Bowl. And even there, amidst a bevy of wonderful tastes, unique ingredients and mouth numbing spices, I still couldn’t leave my “marketing hat” at home.

On the whole, the Chili Bowl was a really fun event held at the Potawatomi Casino’s exhibit space. And according to the Milwaukee Business Journal, the 2015 version saw more than 4,000 people step in line for some wild flavor combinations. There were sausages and briskets, chicken and pork loin, corn nuts and cornbread, alligator and bison, various assortments of peppers and beans, and even some tasty cactus bits thrown in.

With 60 chili concoctions on hand for consumption – what could possibly go wrong?

Well, how’s about multiple booths running out of their special brews less than one hour into a scheduled four hour event!

How could this happen? I could understand running low after serving up the hot sauce for a couple hours – but to run dry before the event was even a quarter of the way through seemed unfathomable. Somewhere along the way there was a serious lack of planning. And that’s the moral of this tale.

Those that ran out of chili so ridiculously early left thousands of potential customers with a negative impression of their restaurant that day. Instead of sharing their delicious mixtures, they had to host their chili-less stations for the last three hours of the event offering only forced smiles and excuses. Had these folks done a better job of planning, they would have been able to take much better advantage of such a wonderful marketing opportunity.

And if anyone is wondering, my personal favorite chili was cooked up by the folks at the Ale Asylum Riverhouse. They featured a Texas-style chili with Strauss ground beef & brisket, pasilla & guajillo peppers, garnished with tomatillo-avocado relish & queso fresco. You better believe I’ll be venturing over their way for a bowl in the not-so-distant future.

Photo via Good Free Photos