Sports Bars Offer Fans a Stadiumlike Atmosphere

Sports Bars Offer Fans a Stadiumlike Atmosphere

By Sue Gleiter | sgleiter@pennlive.com on January 24, 2009 at 2:00 PM, updated January 25, 2009 at 6:48 PM - The Patriot-News
 
Arooga's sports bar in Camp Hill was crowded during the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles playoff game.
 
Pull up a seat in your favorite sports bar next Sunday and it'll cost you less than a ticket to the Super Bowl.
 
The economy might be in trouble, but it's not stopping die-hard sports fans from flocking to bars to catch the latest sporting event -- whether it be football, basketball, hockey or NASCAR. 
 
"I'd rather have the heat shut off than not go out with my friends," said Robbie Parker of New Cumberland. "It's more the company, the camaraderie. If you are sitting at home, you have no bragging rights."
 
While the restaurant industry reacts to the economic downturn by consolidating and closing establishments, casual dining restaurants with sports bars appear to be recession-proof.
 
The midstate is not home to big-name chain sports bars, but many independent owners such as Georgio Giannaris of Mr. G's Place in Susquehanna Township say business is good.
 
"Harrisburg is a big football city. People will cut their corners as far as spending, but they will never cut going to the neighborhood sports bar. People look forward to the Sunday game all week long. There's not that much else to do," he said.
 
Nick Cantone, owner of Cantone's Southern Italian Restaurant in the Colonial Park section of Lower Paxton Township, said beer and food specials make sports bars economically friendly.
 
"You don't have to spend a lot of money when you go to sports bar. You can get wings or a burger and a pint of beer for a $1.50. You can get away with a $10 to $20 bill. It's very economical," Cantone said
 
Cantone was the first to introduce the sports bar concept to the midstate in 1979 -- about the same time ESPN began airing around-the-clock sports. Skeptics said the idea of going to a restaurant to watch sports would never fly, he said.
 
"Now it's absolute hysteria everywhere in the country," Cantone said. "It's duplicated one hundred fold. You can watch the same games and eat the same food literally everywhere. It's oversaturated, but it works."
 
A new entrant, Arooga's Grille House & Sports Bar, owned by Gary Huether, was met with criticism when it opened last year. Some complained the last thing the area needed was another sports bar. But it's drawing crowds.
 
"Everybody loves sports. It's an American pastime. In my mind, sports goes hand in hand with wings and beer," Huether said.
 
Release Date: 
Saturday, January 24, 2009