Restaurants and bars cash in on Pokémon Go craze

An augmented reality game in which players ‘catch’ Pokémon characters placed in real life locations is presenting US restaurants and bars with a unique opportunity to increase footfall.

pokemon-go-spec-625x351Pokémon Go, which launched in the US just two weeks ago, sees players chasing virtual creatures through the streets, and in some cases into otherwise unfrequented bars and restaurants, to ‘catch’ Pokémon which can then be used to play against other gamers.

Within the game are GPS-based “Pokéstops”, where you can pick up virtual supplies to use within the game.

Savvy restaurants and bars in the US have worked out that if they are positioned near to such a stop, users of the game can easily be enticed into their establishment.

Huge Cafe in Atlanta is one such business, which is handily located across the street from two Pokémon Go ‘PokéStops’, as reported by Bon Appetit.

Derek Fridman, group creative director of Huge Atlanta, the digital agency which runs the coffee shop, was quick to catch onto the trend, paying $49 in real currency to buy in-game “coins” that can be traded those in for 40 in-game “lures”.

These can be ‘attached’ to PokéStops and work as smoke-signals to attract Pokémon and users. Each ‘lure’ works for 30 minutes and attracts rarer and more powerful Pokémon to the area, and in turn gamers.

Elsewhere, a Pokémon GO bar crawl in Denver attracted more than 1,300 rsvps and another 6,000 ‘interested’ users on Facebook. Set for August 20, the event will take in several bars in the area. Businesses are being invited to take part with many running specials offers for the event with users expected to sink drinks while on the hunt for Pokémon.

Elsewhere a pizza restaurant in Massachusetts that was incidentally designated a PokéStop has reported a huge increase in customers.

krabby-bread-le-district

A Krabby appears at a deli in New York

“We’ve had a non-stop flow of people coming in, and sales are through the roof,” said Nicole Spirito, general manager of the Flying Saucer Pizza speaking to Bon Appetit. “So we’ve embraced the craze.”

Now, Flying Saucer is actively working with players, entering those that ‘catch’ a Pokémon in their restaurant into a daily raffle for the chance to win a gift card to the restaurant.

But while some are embracing the craze other establishments say they have been adversely affected, with people blindly following virtual creatures into businesses.

Palmer’s Fresh Grill in Kentucky has put up a “No Pokémon Go Players” sign in its window after players repeatedly kept walking into the restaurant to catch a Pokémon without intending to buy anything.

“We had somebody try to walk in the kitchen. We’ve had people standing right in front of people eating and in places that really are making it difficult for us to get through,” a spokesperson for the restaurant said.

Pokémon Go is free to download but offers in-app purchases such as balls that help players capture the Pokémon creatures. Since the game’s launch last week shares in Nintendo rose by 12% on Tuesday afternoon in Tokyo, following a 25% gain on Monday, giving it a market capitalization of about ¥3.2 trillion ($31 billion), as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Currently only available to download in the US, the is rumoured to be launching in Europe and Asia ‘within a few days’.

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