Call it the Cape Cod Boston Bruins Beer Bump. “Any time one of our teams do well, we don’t have to do any marketing at all. People just show up,” said Doc Nealon, manager of Red Face Jack’s Pub in West Yarmouth.
As the NHL Stanley Cup finals series between the Bruins and Chicago Black Hawks began Wednesday night, bartenders, bar owners, and bar managers across the Cape were getting ready for what they expected to be rowdy, intense, money-spending customers looking to share the moment with other fans.
People come to sports bars for “the camaraderie of the fans,” said Dino Mitrokostas, owner of Dino’s Pizza & Sports Bar in Mashpee. “No one wants to celebrate alone,” he said. And even though many people now have large televisions and deluxe sound systems in their homes, Mitrokostas said, “It’s still not the same as sitting there with a hundred of your closest friends, yelling and high-fiving. And we don’t allow kids, so you can swear a little bit too.”
Mitrokostas said the work is hard for his crew but, “Once they settle in, it’s just maintenance. Maintain them, their food, their drinks. From 6:30 to 8, that’s when they’re settling down, jockeying for tables. Some people are here early, camping out.”
As a lifelong Bruins fan, he said, he is thrilled. As the owner of Dino’s, he said, “I’m always happy to see the home team win. When the home team wins, that makes for happy customers. And happy customers make for a happy Dino. Of course, I’m always rooting for game 7, and then overtime.”
Eric Roberts, bartender at The Squealing Pig in Provincetown, said, his bar is typically busy all the time but tonight there will be a large standing room only crowd, especially if it is close at the end of the game.
The playoff crowd “makes our work extremely hard, but it’s one of those crazy nights that you look forward to,” said Roberts. “If they win, and everyone is feeling really good, people drink a lot more.”
On the night that the Bruins came came from three goals down to beat Toronto in game 7 of an earlier round of the playoffs, Roberts said the bar emptied out to just himself and one customer. And then when the Bruins came roaring back, so did all his customers.
Roberts said tonight he expected “a very rowdy crowd, especially for the Bruins. Very rowdy in a good way. During the intermission people are pounding on the tables chanting, ‘Let’s Go Bruins’ just like if you were at the game.”
Big playoff games are always popular at the Squealing Pig, he said. “A lot of it has to do with the fact that we are a tourist town and no one wants to sit in their hotel room and watch the game on a little 20-inch screen.”
In the bar, said Roberts, “People get very tense, there is a lot of shuffling of feet and tapping of hands. At intermission, the place clears out. People go smoke a cigarette or go to the bathroom. But then they are all back in their seats staring at the TV for the next half an hour.”
Bob Varney, manager of the Chatham Squire, said, “When the Bruins play, it’s pretty intense. People are watching the TV and not really moving. We don’t get the typical turnover. People want to stay for the whole game.”
“After the Toronto series, everyone started to believe, said Varney. He associated this Bruins playoff run with the slogan, “Boston Strong,” which arose after the Boston Marathon bombings. “A lot of people in New England, or Boston, are fighters,” he said, and therefore they identify with this tough Bruins team.
Dave Caruso, bartender at the Lost Dog Pub in East Dennis, said he expected a big crowd. “We shut off all the music. Everybody gets extremely focused, extremely intense. There is a lot of yelling and a lot of clapping”
The playoffs, said Nealon, are “a huge boost. When the Bruins score, it feels like the Garden itself. It is so loud, it gives you goosebumps.”
— Brian Tarcy