Area bars ramping up to tackle fantasy football league business
On fall Sundays, beer, Buffalo wings and draft boards are king --
especially if you are a fantasy football fan.
To entice those fantasy players to leave the comfort of their
couches and PCs, Southwest Florida restaurants and sports bars are
ramping up freebies and other gimmicks, all in an effort to build
customer loyalty and boost business before the winter tourist season
kicks in fully.
Analysts say fantasy leagues can reap benefits that last long
after the first pick of the NFL draft.
"These leagues continue on throughout the year, providing the
perfect reason for repetitive business for restaurants with multiple
televisions and an atmosphere for the games," said Darren Tristano,
executive vice president with Technomic, a Chicago-based food
consulting firm. "There is great opportunity for restaurants to
benefit from this."
Fantasy football is a mostly online game, with supporting mobile
apps, in which players create virtual leagues and "draft" actual
professional players from NFL teams to form their own franchise.
With a team in place, players go head-to-head with each other
every week, collecting points based on how well their drafted
players perform in the actual pro games that week. Just like in the
NFL, the fantasy team with the most points wins.
In this region, restaurant and bar owners estimate there are
thousands of fantasy football participants, who tend to be rabid
fans with more discretionary income than typical sports fans. To win
their loyalty, venues have begun leveraging the innate advantage
they have by offering multiple televisions for viewing multiple
games simultaneously -- together with NFL-related food and drink
specials. The trick is to show as many games as possible, all at
once, so fantasy participants can keep track of as many of "their"
These guys are serious
At Siesta Key Oyster Bar on Oyster Boulevard, customers sit at
tables based on the game of their preference each Sunday, said owner
Keith Cipielewski. It is so serious that seating charts are
coordinated a week in advance, so staff can coordinate which games
will play on which of the restaurant and bar's 15 televisions.
"It keeps us in touch with the locals," Cipielewski said. "Plus
it starts at a time that is traditionally slow for us, around the
end of the summer, and brings more people in."
SKOB, which is known for being a Chicago Bears fan hangout, also
invites fantasy football players to a draft party every year.
Cipielewski said participants have received free merchandise,
too, such as a punch card that rewards frequent customers with free
"Fantasy football benefits restaurants through the loyalty a fan
feels to a certain establishment," said Tristano, the Chicago
"For fans, there's a reason to go back there now on a more
repetitive basis for games on Monday, Thursday and Sunday," Tristano
said, referring to expanded NFL playing days throughout the season.
"Restaurants have a really great opportunity to build on that
loyalty through relevant promotions to keep them coming back."
Gecko's Grill & Pub, a Sarasota restaurant in the Landings, has
done just that to capture repeat business. Fantasy football fans can
win prizes such as free grills, deluxe tailgating chairs and club-
level Tampa Bay Bucs game tickets every week, general manager Mike
Ferrara said. …