Local bars and restaurants are looking to capitalize on the Pokémania that’s taking Boston by storm.
Gamers are chasing Pokémon all around Boston (perhaps with the guidance of a crowdsourced map of Pokémon sightings) and are amping up the foot traffic in certain pockets of the city. And some restaurants are taking note, strategizing to monetize a new crop of potential customers.
Cityside Bar is located at a PokeStop in Cleveland Circle, making it a busy hub for Pokémon catching.
“We lucked out that Cleveland Circle has so much action,” says Chris Martin, manager at Cityside. Martin has noticed a surge in the area’s foot traffic in the past week, and initially wasn’t sure why. “I had a feeling something was going on… lots of people were on their phones looking like they were following something,” he explains.
This Pokémon chase isn’t confined to the city streets — Martin has seen customers catching Pokémon inside Cityside. “It’s literally in the restaurant,” he says. “We have an outdoor area and people are playing on the patio. I think there are Pokémon up there, I don’t really know.”
Cityside hasn’t done any official marketing related to Pokémon Go, but the team is currently strategizing. “Right now, we are learning to monetize the new crowd,” explains Martin. “It’s kind of a new frontier.” Currently, Martin is considering two potential directions to capitalize on the popularity of the game — framing the restaurant either as a place to actively catch Pokémon or a place for gamers to stop in for a break.
Sunset Grill & Tap in Allston is also tapping into the Poké-obsessed culture to entice guests into their restaurant. They have used street signs announcing rare Pokémon that have been caught inside the restaurant, and sometimes will offer prizes to guests that have caught certain Pokémon. “A couple people on the staff are really into it,” says Marc Berkowitz, Sunset Grill’s owner.
Berkowitz explains that the core demographic playing Pokémon Go is the same demographic as Sunset Grill’s usual customer base — they’re young and social media savvy. “We’ve noticed a peaked interest that matches our clientele,” he notes. And that's a crowd that they certainly want to turn into regular customers.
Sunset Grill’s marketing team is meeting today to discuss strategies for monetizing the Pokémon craze. “We are going to discuss more opportunities to capitalize on the Pokémon mania,” says Berkowitz.
On the table for discussion — buying Pokémon lures. By paying a small fee on ‘Lure Modules,’ which attract large numbers of Pokémon to a particular spot for 30 minutes at a time; gamers will potentially come in droves.
But the restaurant wants to ensure that, no matter what, Pokémon Go-related injuries are kept at bay. Berkowitz concludes, “As long as people are safe with it, we’re happy.”