Dining Guide: Sports pubs prep for football, hockey seasonWritten by Amy Biolchini | | ABiolchini@toledofreepress.com
Beer, food and TVs: Sports bars know exactly how to draw crowds in for football and hockey season. With the NFL season starting Sept. 9 and Walleye Hockey beginning the second week of October, pubs in Toledo have a busy schedule ahead of them.
For Toledo Players Sports Bar on Jefferson Avenue, which opened March 4, this is its first football and hockey season. Elicka Zieroff, owner of Players, can’t wait.
“Once the Downtown closes, it seems like it’s dead, at least Monday through Thursday,” Zieroff said. “With the Huntington Center across the street, I can’t wait for the sports arena to start up.”
Players will offer bucket specials and $2 domestic bottles during Walleye game nights. The first week of September Players will offer buy-one-get-one starters, Zieroff said.
Zieroff said she has been paying attention to the NFL Sunday Ticket to anticipate the big games. Jim Manley, marketing director for Fricker’s USA, also mentioned this tactic. Fricker’s is celebrating its 25th year of business.
“We’ve got the NFL Sunday Ticket — there are no blackouts. We’re able to carry every game,” Manley said.
With a minimum of 20 TVs in each restaurant, Fricker’s has invested a lot of money in its hardware. Manley said several Fricker’s locations recently upgraded its TVs, using a starting budget of $300,000.
“Football is extraordinarily popular in our stores with all of the TVs,” Manley said. “We are the place for football.”
In addition to making sure Fricker’s shows professional and college games, Fricker’s offers a different food special every day, according to Manley. Fricker’s has three locations in Toledo.
“We’ve worked very, very hard to keep our bottom line low. With back to school time, people don’t have the monetary ends to pay high prices,” Manley said. “Maumee has had dollar domestic beer for years.”
Parkway Sports Bar in Maumee is gearing up for the football crowd with new daily deals on beer and food. Specials include dollar margaritas on taco nights, pitcher discounts and $10 steak dinners on Thursdays, according to General Manager Zee Lewis.
“This is definitely a football bar,” Lewis said. “The previous owner’s son played for OSU, Dane Sanzenbacher. So there are a lot of big Ohio State fans in this place.”
Besides a loyal Ohio State fan base, Parkway has a strong Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns following.
“We usually have a lot of the same customers, but a lot of new people come in once they get to know the specials,” Lewis said.
Parkway has a big screen TV, as well as six other TVs throughout the bar. Its biggest event of the year is the OSU-Michigan game, when it has a large buffet potluck of hot dogs and hamburgers, Lewis said.