So, the Super Bowl is over. What’s a burger joint, a bar, or a wing place to do?
The Giants’ victory last week not only capped off a successful playoff run, but also a very busy few months for Brooklyn bars and restaurants. Now, owners are looking to keep up some of the momentum.
On Super Bowl Sunday at the Burger Guru in Williamsburg, “the whole place was packed,” recalls Tommy Arvanitidis, one of the joint’s owners. It offered a special – $40 of limitless wings and beer on tap – that filled both its main dining area and a larger indoor backyard with 85 sports fans.
But a week later, the place appeared noticeably emptier in the late afternoon, with under a dozen diners at the restaurant seated (the owners blamed the cold weather, and football burnout for the slow day). “The Super Bowl did bring us a lot of fans and a lot of customers,” said Arvanitidis. “But it doesn’t mean that the fans and customers we made over the football season won’t continue coming back.”
To make up for the football crowd, the Burger Guru plans to rely not only on special holiday deals, like a candlelit dinner with burgers, fries, and a milkshake for two on Valentine’s Day tomorrow, but a menu overhaul to boot. The owners are getting into the brunch business, putting the finishing touches on a new menu that premieres next Sunday.
For the Burger Guru, and other restaurants and bars, the Super Bowl is more of an occasion to showcase itself than cash in. The profit margin, explained a manager, is smaller on the specials than if people were to order them separately. “It wasn’t to make money, because we didn’t,” said Arvanitidis.
He isn’t the only one who believes specials aren’t necessarily moneymakers. Felice Kirby, who owns Teddy’s Bar and Grill in Williamsburg, also says major sporting events aren’t always profitable for bars, since beverages are often discounted. “People don’t actually spend that much money because you give them drink specials,” explains Kirby. But she adds, “The football season being over is sad for the Monday night bartender.”
Yet hyping Super Bowl specials may have worked as a long-term strategy for other nearby restaurants. At Wingstop Brooklyn, a three-month old restaurant downtown, shift leader Shonda Maton said specials for the big game, which included a pre-order option, and a 30 percent discount off menu items, brought a steady stream of new customers.
For the week after “It was a lot of people coming in that we had never seen before,” said Maton. “I’ll bet the Super Bowl really turned us around.”
Though she predicts that Sundays will be less busy, it may mean that the restaurant can save on variable costs such as extra hands on deck to serve customers. “We won’t need as much staff and we don’t have to use as much,” she says. “We won’t have an incident where we don’t have enough chicken.”
Meanwhile, the Burger Guru might have a new draw: basketball “It’s not just football,” says Arvantidis. “We’ve got the Knicks.” Then he started chanting, “Lin, Lin, Lin,” referring to the NBA’s latest phenomena Jeremy Lin, the Knicks point guard who after successful starts last week has breathed new life into the struggling team.
However, the Knicks’ turnaround may not translate into success for many Brooklyn bars. A cable dispute between Time Warner and MSG has resulted in a Knicks blackout for Time Warner subscribers, like Teddy’s Bar and Grill.
Felice Kirby, Teddy’s owner, says it’s too early in the season to tell whether losing the Knicks will affect business, but she suspects it will. “We lost something that helps us,” she said.