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The Scarlet & Black

Column: Two ideas about how to increase popularity of Lyle’s Pub

The Campus Pub, like many firms these days, struggles for customers.
However, unlike many other businesses, Lyle’s does not qualify for a bailout from the federal government; the basement operation simply is not big enough.
Nevertheless, the management there has designed some methods to rectify their losses, the most successful being the First Fridays program with Student Affairs, where Student Affairs provides free food to all patrons and limited alcohol to patrons of age on the first Friday of every month.

And while the First Fridays program has admirably boosted Lyle’s food sales, one would hope that the Pub could move beyond receiving subsidies in order to stay in business. Thus, I offer a few ideas.

Hopefully they will help reduce the Pub’s dependence on administration funds. The theme to these ideas: tie Lyle’s more directly to that institution Grinnellians go fanatical for every week, Harris.

Firstly, the campus pub should heavily advertise its evening hours, especially for weekends. Now that the Spencer Grille closes at midnight every day, Lyle’s has an opportunity to pick up that venue’s former patrons, particularly from Harris. Harris parties typically end at 1 a.m. and prior to this semester swarms of inebriated, costumed party-goers would surge upon the Spencer Grill to purchase food, presumably in greater quantities than they would if sober.
However, now that the Grill no longer serves past midnight, these crowds must dissipate among the dorms in order to fulfill their still hungry, beer-awash stomachs. Lyle’s should fill these stomachs instead. We all know that the Pub must match its alcohol sales to non-alcohol sales in order to serve those under 21, so there’s no doubt they could use the money from food. To boost their after-midnight revenue, Lyle’s should put up posters to emphasize this fact, with a particularly high concentration of posters around the Harris area. Party-goers might notice the posters on their walk out from Harris, and on drunken impulse follow them to the pub.

Secondly, the campus pub should try at every opportunity to provide the ACE-mandatory food at Harris parties. As it stands now, all Harris parties must provide at least $25 worth of food per tapped keg, and consequently, most Harris organizers purchase their food from the first off-campus supplier that comes to mind—such as Jimbo’s pizza.

But this does not have to be the case. The food provided by Lyle’s Pub—pretzels, garlic bread, etc.—could easily substitute Jimbo’s pizza in terms of alcohol absorption. Since Harris parties typically occur at least once a weekend, and generally feature about two kegs, this source could boost revenue on average by $50 a week. Additionally, since Harris food is often paid for by the SGA All Campus Events committee, Lyle’s should contact the ACE Coordinator Celeste Larkin about obtaining a free good word at ACE budget meetings. The power of suggestion, indeed, could be enough to persuade an otherwise indifferent Harris organizer to purchase his or her food from Lyle’s, instead of somewhere off-campus.

By integrating itself more closely with Harris, Lyle’s Pub would raise its bottom line and ideally depend less on school subsidies to remain functional. After all, the pub has a great atmosphere when it has customers, and it would be shameful to have to eventually give up the room number “JRC 007” because of running deficits. Obviously there still exist other impediments to the pub’s growth—the lack of draft beer particularly comes to mind—but these can be overcome in due time. We have some easy solutions already at hand. Let’s try them out.

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