When the Eagles are good, Philadelphia is a happier place. Bar owners, in particular, have reason to celebrate the stellar start to the season.
The Birds’ best-in-league performance is boosting crowds — and leading to a notable increase in revenue.
At some bars, especially those known for showing sports, gameday sales have jumped as much as 25 percent compared to recent years. And according to some of the publicans Billy Penn contacted, customers’ exuberance over the Eagles is spilling over, translating to more business on other days of the week, too.
“Definitely 25 percent [up], maybe higher,” said Joe Schultice, owner of Nick’s Bar & Grille in Old City. “More than just on gameday, as the city has a buzz about it!”
“It has a definite effect on mood, and in turn does get people out of their homes,” concurred Stu Roberts, bar manager at New Wave Cafe. The Queen Village mainstay sees an approximate 15-percent leap in sales on days when Eagles play, he said. It’s especially welcome after a summer where this year’s dismal Phillies showing led to what Roberts called “a noticeable lack of business.”
Misconduct Tavern at 15th and Locust has also seen a jump of around 15 percent, per managing partner Fleming Kerr.
“Which is a tough feat, because we were always busy for Eagles games,” Kerr said. He’s noticed people staying out longer after the fourth quarter wraps up, and said the bar has also enjoyed a later hit from people making a celebratory stop as they return home from the Linc on the Broad Street Line.
After opening with two away games, five of the Eagles’ last seven contests (all wins) have been at home — which bodes well for the rest of the season as far as sales go.
“Away games historically are always great, [but] in past years, home games were hit and miss,” said Andy Farrell, director of operations at Table 95, the restaurant group that owns Field House and Philly’s two City Tap House locations. He explained that “tens of thousands” of his usual customers spend gameday tailgating at the stadium instead of going to bars.
However, even home games have been busy this year, Farrell said. Advance bookings for bar stools and tables with good sight-lines to the bars’ high-def TVs are up, including “lots of reservations requests for Sunday from typical weekday happy hour folks.”
Gameday reservations are now recommended at Landmark Americana in University City, per GM Mike Fiscaro, who estimated a 25 percent year over year improvement in sales. “Customers are coming back [mid-week] to take advantage of the specials they see advertised during game time,” he said.
Most sports bars don’t offer reservations, of course. At The Irish Pub, which has outposts on opposite ends of Walnut Street, that has led to people starting their Sunday Fundays earlier than usual.
“Eagles always bring a crowd,” said Irish Pub manager Mark O’Connor, “but this year, it’s standing room only. Customers are coming earlier to get a seat.”
O’Connor has noted an increase in Eagles jerseys populating his bar — even when it’s a different Philly team on the TVs. The Sixers, for all the chatter they’ve generated, haven’t thus far created their own sales bump. “Not a big pop,” he said. “Yet.”
Fandom isn’t confined by the city limits. Eagles mania has been especially noticeable in the suburbs on weekdays, per Jessica Breslow, marketing director for P.J. Whelihan’s, which has 15 locations across the region.
“From a sales perspective, Sundays are always exciting, no matter who’s playing,” she said. “But for the Thursday and Monday night Eagles games (Oct. 12 vs. Panthers and Oct. 23 vs. Washington), there was a definite difference.”
As they look ahead to the Super Bowl, bar operators are getting more and more excited — just like the rest of us.
“The effect should be even stronger in the coming weeks,” Breslow said. “As the excitement and playoff expectations build … people won’t want to miss a second.”