With game one of the American League Championship Series scheduled for tonight, Canadians from east to west have caught Blue Jays fever! But does that have an impact on restaurants and bars, and how customers watch the games? We spoke to four industry insiders to get their thoughts about whether the Jays’ success has impacted their business, and how other establishments might take advantage of it too.
Mike Yasinski of Hudsons says the Blue Jays have had a big impact on his Alberta locations. “It’s a gift that the Jays have made the playoffs. With tough times in the province, their success has been great for business.” He adds that there are many Blue Jays fans in Edmonton, where many of Hudsons ten pubs are located.
Boston Pizza has over 365 locations across Canada, and Director of Marketing James Kawalecki says what’s good in the ballpark is good for their restaurants. “Boston Pizza is the official sports bar of the Blue Jays, and we definitely see traffic and sales in our restaurants increase when the Jays are playing. We show all the games on our big-screen TVs in the sports bars and dining rooms, so guests can always depend on us.” They’ve already seen impressive sales driven by postseason play. Kawalecki adds, “The day of the wild card game vs. the Baltimore Orioles on Oct. 4, Boston Pizza posted positive results from coast to coast, leading to double-digit national sales growth for the day.”
Brian Day of Christian’s in St. John’s, NL says he’s seen a small bump in business, but the longer the Jays keep playing, the more business he expects to get. “They’re really Canada’s team,” he says. “I see my regulars coming in every night wearing Blue Jays jerseys and hats.” He has a 70″ TV in the bar on the main floor, with room for overflow customers upstairs.
How can you, as a restaurant or bar operator, take advantage of the excitement around baseball right now? Jean Bedard of Quebec’s La Cage recommends letting people know through social media. “With 46 locations, we have nearly 120,000 followers on Facebook,” he says. “We tell them we’re showing the games and people come in to join us.” Yasinski agrees, saying, “You have to have a reputation as a place to watch sports, then promote yourself as a great place to watch the Jays.”
Let us know if you’re scoring big with Jays’ fans – and let’s hope the Jays go all the way!