Manayunk and Roxborough bars prepare for St. Paddy’s Day

The massive crowds of bar-goers in head-to-toe green attire are inevitable on St. Paddy’s Day, but local bars say with this year’s holiday falling on a Saturday, it’s a game changer. 

From dive bars to high-energy bars to Irish pubs—many establishments in the Roxborough and Manayunk area expect to see an increase in crowds and sales on Saturday. 

Bar managers in Manayunk say they, especially, will experience high volumes of crowds, since locals tend to be a mix of unmarried young professionals and college students.

With no need to take time off from work to nurse a hangover, bars expect the day to be longer than usual and for sales to skyrocket.

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Mad River hopes to make up for lost business 

Mad River general manager Joe Decandido said this is the first year he remembers the big day coming on a weekend—last year it was on a Thursday—and he said that’s why he planned a larger-than-average bash.

Decandido said on Saturday, Mad River will essentially be hosting an indoor music festival, with several bands, a free breakfast buffet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and various drink deals.

The event took three months of planning and Decandido said he expects to go home Friday night around 4 a.m. to shower and head back to work again at 6 a.m. in preparation for the event kickoff at 11 a.m.

“It’s a huge process,” he said. “I anticipate more people coming out [and from] farther away. We feel like a lot more people will come in so we just want to be prepared for it.”

Decandido said the most difficult part of the whole ordeal won’t even be the event itself, because Mad River puts on several large-scale events. But what he finds difficult and time consuming is promotion—the bar partnered with Summer Park Apartments, as well as other businesses, and even advertisted on Philadelphia’s morning radio show, 93.3’s The Preston and Steve Show.

“We always like to think that you can put together a great event but if no one knows about it, it’s not going to be successful,” he said. “We try and do as much of that as possible to different mediums and it’s very grassroots.”

Decandido said the day—even without such large-scale plans—is one that makes up for slow sales in the last few weeks.

“It definitely helps our March because we’re skewed to such a young demographic we feel a loss of business with spring break,” he said. “So it’s been a lot of planning [that] goes into St. Patrick’s Day to make up for that lost business.”

Kildare’s on crowd control 

Further down Main Street in Manayunk, general manager of Kildare’s, Patrick Watkins, said his bar doesn’t have low sales in March because it’s known more for food and is a gathering place for young professionals.

But on St. Patrick’s Day, Watkins said different demographics come in crowds at different times.

“It goes by a timeline pretty much,” he said. “From earlier in the day [after we open at 7 a.m.] it’s the older demographic, anyone from 25 up.”

Watkins said it tends to be the 21-to-25 year olds who close the bar at 2 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day.

But no matter what, any bar-goers making a stop at Kildare’s can expect lines.

“It’s going to be crowded from beginning to end,” he said. “On St. Patrick’s Day we will have a line probably from 2 o’clock on.”

Because Kildare’s is one of the few Irish pubs in the area—and a far more authentic one at that, he argues—Watkins said several people make it their destination for the holiday.

“There’s a lot of people that actually travel to our bar because we’re an authentic Irish pub,” he said. “We’re not an Irish pub that says ‘we’re an Irish bar’ and puts some flags up.”

With it being one of the St. Patrick’s favorites, Watkins said the biggest problem is typically volume.

“The biggest challenge would be crowd control,” he said. “It’s hard to be mobile, that’s a challenge. It’s going to be pretty tough for servers to go out from the kitchen to cut through a crowd to get to the tables without spilling their food.”

To help with the issue, he’ll have a staff of 70 throughout the day—20 of which work security—and has several walkie-talkies ready to go.

‘There’s nothing like a Saturday’ at Coyle’s Cafe 

At Coyle’s Café in Roxborough—which is also an Irish pub—it’s more of a family atmosphere.

But owner Michael Coyle said he anticipates his regular St. Patrick’s Day crowd—locals ranging from 21 to 70—but in higher volumes.

“People are off from work, they’ll drink more, they’ll party more, they’ll eat more,” he said. “We still had a good day last year, but there’s nothing like a Saturday.”

But overall, he plans to keep the atmosphere family-like. After all, it’s a fifth-generation owned bar.

“We came [to Roxborough] from Ireland and never left,” he said. “We’re one of the few Irish bars. Most people think Coyles, Kildare’s and [J.D.] McGillcuddy’s.”

Since Coyle’s Café is one of the few Irish pubs in the area, Coyles said he ordered nearly double the amount of alcohol he usually does in anticipation of large crowds.

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