Editor's Letter - Drinks On Me

The Hustons love a good bar. It all started when we met in college (at a frat party – go figure!).

One lovely establishment we frequented was McSorley’s Old Ale House in Greenwich Village, New York City. If you’re not familiar with it, it has the honor of being New York City’s oldest continuously operated saloon, having been established in 1854 (and it still has the cobwebs on the light fixtures to prove it). Allegedly, everyone from Abe Lincoln to John Lennon and many more in between and thereafter have been patrons.

To say it’s a quirky little place would be an understatement. The Irish waiters can be brusque at best, and you can only choose from two types of beer: McSorley’s dark and McSorley’s light. You have to order two at a time; order one and the waiter will give you the death stare. They serve such gourmet cuisine as cheese and crackers with raw onion – all on a paper plate (not even Chinet).

Women weren’t allowed in until August 10, 1970. And that’s why when my friends and I first started going there, we had to use a unisex bathroom. Quite the scene. They didn’t install separate bathrooms until fairly recently.

Despite all this, we would wait in long lines – even during the week – to get in there and it’s still just as popular. Although we gave up our weekly visits after getting married, moving to PA and having children, we have since revisited with friends and our 24-year-old, Matt, who is now also a big fan (he works in NYC these days).

We still have photos I took and framed from a calendar they sold there hanging in our basement. I didn’t even know that calendar was a promotional product back then, but now, of course I do. And when I see those photos, they bring back fun memories.

That’s what bars and restaurants continue to do today: Create memorable experiences for their patrons that keep them coming back for more. This means big opportunities for you, which is why the topic is our cover story this issue.

“The restaurant and bar sector orders a lot of promotional products, as they strive to create and build a unique brand relationship and connect with their clientele,” says Mitch Weintraub, CEO of Pinnacle Promotions (asi/295986). “Promotional products are a way to help develop and expand a brand to reach out to their target demographics and foster repeat business.”

A report from the National Restaurant Association states that industry job growth this year is expected to outpace the overall economy for the 15th consecutive year. The industry is the nation’s second largest private sector employer.

In addition to restaurants/bars, there are 65,000 drinking establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of alcoholic drinks, according to the Nightlife & Club Industry Association of America. Now that’s something we can all drink to (any excuse, am I right?). Cheers! Write and let me know, what’s your favorite bar?