Restaurants in New York are already cashing in on the Pokémon Go craze: At least one pizza bar and restaurant in New York says it saw a 75 percent jump in business from attracting players of the mobile game over the weekend, according to the Post. A manager at L’inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City paid $10 to buy a "lure module" in the app, which attracted the virtual Pokémon to the bar for half an hour. The result: People trying catch more Pokémon flocked to the bar, buying drinks and sticking around in the interim, the pizzeria says. "The amount of people has been astonishing," owner Tom Lattanzio tells the Post. "All day long, from afternoon to evening this past weekend."
Besides creating lures to bring in big groups of Pokémasters, multiple bar crawls based solely on playing Pokémon Go have emerged since the game launched last week. Polygon’s Jeff Ramos organized one in Greenpoint, starting from restaurant, bar, and Pokémon gym Spritzenhaus. (Gyms are places where players can battle each other, one of the finer aspects of the game.) It will continue to other "gyms" and spots, including Bar Matchless, Enid’s, and Peter Pan Doughnuts. Another group is doing a crawl starting at Barcade in Williamsburg, and cocktail membership app Froth is organizing one starting at Turntable 5060.
Of course, the craze is good news for Nintendo and app creator Niantic, too. The company may soon offer "sponsored location" opportunities to restaurants, retailers, coffee shops, and other businesses looking to attract Pokémon Go players, according to the Times. Niantic’s previous game Ingress made money from such relationships, and it will announce plans for Pokémon Go soon, too.
But at least for now, a "lure" can be a pretty low cost way to attract business, as Mic reports. Other restaurants across the country are doing things like offering gift cards to people who tweet out photos of themselves with Pokémon in the restaurant, or giving discounts to players. Still, despite the potential cash upside, not all restaurants are on board. Spritzenhaus’s owner tells Mic: "I am unaware of any Pokémon-related stops or groups coming into the bar. [I] have no interest in Pokémon, Pokémon-related business tactics or any human being on Earth that plays children's games on their phones."
Update: Ramos has decided to not start his Greenpoint-based bar crawl at Spritzenhaus anymore after the owner's comments toward Pokémon Go players. A new location is to be determined. "Their loss," he writes in an update on the Facebook event. "At this point, we have 1,500 interested and they're going to lose that business."