Sports Bar Case Study: Attracting Tourists

Foley’s

A NYC bar draws tourists and sports fans to his bar

Shaun Clancy gets right to the heart of attracting out of town visitors to his sports bar, Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant, in midtown New York City.

Given that he has 18 large screens showing sports coverage almost exclusively, he spends a lot of time marketing specifically to fans who come and watch sports games at his bar.

To attract fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Clancy started carrying Iron City Beer and added a Pittsburgh salad that includes sliced steak and is topped with fries, an homage to the famed Primanti Brothers restaurant chain in Pittsburgh. As a result, Foley’s has gained renown among visitors from Pittsburgh and has even become known as “the Penguins bar.”

For fans of the Cardinals baseball team, Foley’s added Schlafly Beer, toasted ravioli, and St. Louis pizza made with Provel cheese. Foley’s became so well known as a Cardinals bar that celebrities including Andy Cohen and Jon Hamm come in to watch post-season games.

“We introduced [these items] just to make people feel more at home,” Clancy says. “We like to have fun with it and we’ll do all kinds of drink and food combinations. At times over the years we’ve introduced a food or a beer for every single baseball team in the country. For example, if the Toronto Blue Jays are in town we’ll put poutine on the menu. Some people like a little taste of home. So if we know a certain team is playing we’ll put on a beer or some food. If it goes well, it continues on the menu.”

But it’s not just certain teams’ fans that are welcome—they all are. “We’re not exclusive to those teams. “Every group is welcome here, and we’ll make every effort to make them all feel they are in their hometown bar while they are living in or just visiting New York City,” Clancy adds. “It all comes back to service and a welcoming attitude.”

To let out-of-town fans know what he’s doing, Clancy makes it known on social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

In fact, he says, this is how he appeals to all tourists, not just the sports fan tourists. He gets plenty of both types, being opposite the Empire State Building.

“You have to have a solid footprint on the Internet, and social media drives it,” he says, adding that he can’t remember the last time he saw someone with a traditional guide book. “The internet is the new guidebook and people who are visiting a place like New York will rely on it. You cannot underestimate social media and its impact.”

Beyond social media, radio also works for Clancy, especially if he advertises around baseball games. And he still works on developing relationships with local concierges, and gives them a free drink or a meal if they come to Foley’s before or after their shift.

But by far the best money he spends on attracting tourists is on an employee who handles his social media for him.