If you're one of the 9.5 million Americans playing Pokémon Go, chances are you’ve spent your free time traveling around Miami trying to “catch 'em all.” Whether you’ve joined friends for a bar crawl or walked around Miami alone, you’ve begun to explore the city you’ve always called home in new ways while seeking out animated monsters.
Because of the increased walking traffic Pokémon Go has caused, local restaurants and bars are looking to use the app to reel in new customers. By using in-game offers and sharing different “catches” on social media (we’re looking at you, Zuuk and Zak the Baker), businesses are hoping to make a profit off the Pokémon craze.
For just $1.19 an hour, restaurants and bars can use the “lure module” to attract more Pokémon to their location and encourage customers to stop by.
The newly opened Spillover in Coconut Grove is one of the restaurants that hopes to use the Pokémon obsession to their advantage. The restaurant will offer 10 percent off any meal to customers who are above Level 3 and will also release several lures this weekend.
"Laurie, our director of operations, thought it would be a good way to be part of the fun," says Matt Kuscher, owner of the Spillover, Kush, and Lokal. "Since we're at work and can't play, this was the next best thing."
According to Business Insider, the app doesn't currently partner with any local business to offer in-game benefits: Locations are chosen based off Ingress, Niantic Lab’s previous game. PokéStops and gyms tend to be near public art, landmarks, and stores, such as Vizcaya or Pérez Art Museum Miami, though restaurants aren’t getting the short end of the stick.
“We have definitely seen more people come to Bodega because of the game,” says Andres Moreno, that restaurant’s manager. “Customers claim to see a lot of activity around where we are located.”
The gaming craze has quickly caught the attention of Yelp, which is now pointing people to businesses that double as PokéStops. Restaurants hope to attract new customers by becoming the destination for Pokémon-related events. This past weekend, Norma Moreno of NormaNow partnered with Coyo Taco to host her Poké Walk. Players were able to unwind in the restaurant’s back room after a long day of catching creatures, and the winner received a free meal at the restaurant.
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“I had over 300 RSVPs, but I’m sure more people participated,” Moreno says. “It was a beautiful sight to see so many people from all walks of life with a common interest come together for the game.”
However, though some eateries have really bought into Pokémon Go, others haven't joined the fandom. While the app has led clients to some restaurants, it has also attracted intense gamers who aren't interested in eating or drinking. Wynwood beer garden Brick even posted a handwritten cardboard sign outside its door stating, “Pokemon are for paying customers only!!!”
For this reason and others, local businesses will need to determine how large a part they want to take in the Pokémon phenomenon. Will they help customers find Pikachu, or will they shut the door on eager gamers?