It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that businesses and restaurants surrounding big sporting arenas thrive when their particular sport is in season. But what happens when that entire season is in jeopardy, as it is with the current 2011-2012 NBA season?
Restaurants flounder, that’s what.
A recent look at restaurants in Houston, TX shows some serious cause for concern among proprietors near the Toyota Center. Home to the NBA’s Houston Rockets, the Toyota Center is generally a key factor in trickling hungry mouths to the nearby eateries.
Mia Bella Trattoria and Andalucia Tapas Restaurant and Bar, two blocks north of the Toyota Center, state that Rockets and NBA fans represent 60-70% of their sales on game nights. General Manager Mike Neri claims a lot of employee families depend on the income, some are forced to take a pay cut, and some have to get another job.
The most interesting talks coming out of the NBA’s strangely elongated lockout involve the ability for restaurateurs to be able to survive without the likelihood of an NBA season. For instance, Mike Raymond, the co-owner of an upscale bar near the Toyota Center thinks they’ll survive in the long run. But shakily responds:
I’d like to say we’re not dependent on these games. But that said, 16,000 coming to a game? You want it. If you got the Lakers on a Friday night, you know you’re gonna be busy. People are gonna be excited. Everybody’s gonna be happy. Hopefully they figure it out for everybody’s sake. — Mike Raymond of Reserve 101