Apr 042017

Scoot InnSix years ago while in New York City, I decide to visit one of New York’s oldest bars, McSorley’s Old Ale House, established 1854.  While not the oldest bar in New York City, it is one of the five bars featured in the YouTube below.  Even today, McSorley’s serves only two beers: one dark and one light. Neither of these two beers have a name, nor do the customers know at which brewery they are brewed the bar claims the beers are the original brew from Ireland.

Today, the beer industry continues to fight declining on premise sales, either from competition or from the consumer who is not frequenting bars or casual dining as in the past. The question is, why is this behavior occurring, or what can be done to reverse the trend?

Many of the craft-centric casual dining bars, including Yard House, feature a number of HD TVs broadcast of sporting events.  In recent years, even the powerhouse station, ESPN, has lost over five million subscribers, yet it appears those people who dropped ESPN do not support bars to see live sports. Then there are the craft/import bars like The Ginger Man or The Flying Saucers who have a niche and continue to do well and hang in.

There is one segment in the on premise market that continues to be viable year in and year out, regardless of industry conditions.  It is bars such as these that have been around, not only for decades, but in the case of McSorley’s, over a hundred years.  Every town has one or two classic bars like McSorley’s.

The interior of these on premise establishments, rarely if ever changes, the beer offerings almost never change, and yet these bars continue to do well, often because of their unique culture.  Consider many of the towns that host large colleges, including Austin, Columbus, Stillwater, College Station, all these towns have an old classic bar that has been in business for generations.  When there is a home sporting event, many of the student body, along with alums who are returning to relive their college memories, populate these well know and well loved establishments.

Major cities, too, have their iconic bars that never change.   Many of these timeless businesses have had the same beer on tap since opening.  When Club Schmidt’s celebrated their 50th anniversary, Budweiser had been on draft there for 50 years!  Rarely do such classic bars install the newest or most popular beers, rather they stick with the beers that helped propel them to fame. Needless to say, such business models have worked.

Upscale bars and chains will continue to come and go, they will continue to change with the times, providing the consumer with the latest and greatest beers.  Some will make it, and some will not, but those bars where memories have been made, and have a unique culture will continue to thrive.  Hipps Bubble Room, Scoots Inn, Time Out Tavern, Adair’s Bar and Grill, Greenville Ave Bar, are just a few that will continue to thrive.

Where everyone knows your name…

Beer Fodder;  

 Posted by at 6:00 am

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