This is a recipe no local bartender wants to mix: an abysmal Philadelphia Eagles season, a Phillies team out of the playoffs and a strike-shortened hockey season.
The past few months have been tough on local fans, but also on area sports bars that see fewer customers when the home teams stink — or don’t play.
“There’s no doubt sports are probably the biggest feeder of our business,” said Dan Stefankiewicz, co-owner of Goodnight Irene’s in Wildwood. “And you have a whole season of disenfranchised fans.”
So local establishments got some good news Sunday that the National Hockey League announced it will play an abbreviated season following a months-long lockout.
Stefankiewicz expects an immediate boost to business, which of late has been slower than normal this time of year.
Playoff-bound teams — mostly Philadelphia ones, with a trickling of New York and Dallas fans — can easily double business, said Mike Haldeman, who co-owns Owens Pub in North Wildwood.
The lack of Flyers games has meant fewer customers on weekday nights after dinnertime the past several months, he said.
“You can’t sit in a bar and watch a movie,” he said.
Sean McNamee is among that group of Philadelphia fans who went out to bars less often as the Eagles headed to a 4-12 season and fired their head coach Andy Reid.
“I didn’t watch the last five Eagles games. I stayed in. The Giants game, I didn’t find out the score until the following day, until Andy Reid was fired,” McNamee, 41, of Wildwood, said, sitting at a stool at Goodnight Irene’s.
“This is the first year I didn’t care about the Eagles and Cowboys,” said Jack Holland, 30, of Wildwood. “I actually wanted them to lose so they’d get a better draft pick.”
With hockey back, “I’ll be here every game,” McNamee said.
Of course, Philadelphia sports fans have benefited from successes, too, including playoff appearances in all major sports and a World Series win in 2008.
“Mostly, we had a great eight-year run with the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and 76ers being competitive,” Stefankiewicz said.
A 76ers playoff series against the Boston Celtics last year provide an unexpected 12 percent year-over-year jump in business, he said.
At the Deauville Inn in Strathmere, a predominantly seasonal seashore community in Upper Township, the establishment typically closes a few days a week in the slow offseason — from Oct. 1 to May 1.
“The year before last, with the Phillies going for the playoffs, we were open every day,” said co-owner Lynda Brown. “We stayed open because people came in.”
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