Beantown’s bars have the best brew and crew

Slide1As someone who is positively obsessed with the image and reputation of people, places and things, I was taken aback to read a recent Crain’s New York Business piece reporting that Boston is putting a real hurt on the Big Apple’s ability to attract the best and brightest workers, and one of the reasons may be the experience provided by its bars and restaurants.

The study caused me to toss back another Blue Moon and do some personal digging into this seeming disconnect (after all, New York is renowned as one of the globe’s true culinary meccas).

So, practicing what our firm’s Audience Experience offering preaches I chose NOT to focus on restaurant and bar owners in each city but, rather, on the patrons themselves. I wanted to understand each city’s brand (if you will) from the end user’s vantage point.

I spoke with two experienced drinkers (in a positive sense, mind you) who have bent many an elbow in both Manhattan and Boston bars and restaurants.

My question was this: Crain’s New York Business says Boston’s bars are to the Apple’s as the Patriots are to the Jets (i.e. they kick butt, pure and simple). Having imbibed at many fine establishments in each metropolis, what’s your take on why Boston is winning this particular battle?

Alex Chigas, a financial representative at Fidelity Investments in Shrewsbury, Mass, had this to say: ‘The big difference between Boston and New York bars is this: Manhattan has far more high end, upscale bars/restaurants that only the well-heeled can afford. But, while Boston also provides a high-end experience, it has far more boutique eateries and bars that offer great grog and grub for any budget. Put more bluntly, we have more, and better, hole-in-the-wall bars than New York.”

Ouch! That hurt more than yet another last-second, game-winning Tom Brady drive to defeat the hapless Jets.

Josh Brown, Director of Marketing at Metropolitan Pipe & Supply Company in Cambridge, provided a different, and completely unexpected, POV: “Education is Boston’s ace in the hole. We have a higher concentration of colleges and universities in Boston than anywhere else on the planet. So, those students experience our great bars and restaurants and stay right here to begin their careers. It’s a strategic advantage that New York couldn’t possibly match.”

Double ouch! That’s akin to saying the Boston Red Sox have a far deeper, and wider, farm system than the Yankees and, ergo, will produce more highly skilled major leaguers down the road.

I love it! And, Josh’s analysis makes perfect sense. Even more important for someone who simply lives to foment unrest, I’m hoping these comments will spark some heated reaction from my New York-based readers.

So, how about it guys? What do those of you who have been introduced to John Barleycorn in both Boston and New York bars feel about the respective experiences? Which city has given you the biggest buzz for your buck, and why?

And a tip o' the Red Sox cap to Chris Cody for suggesting this post.

3 thoughts on “Beantown’s bars have the best brew and crew

  1. Nice. Thanks Bedrock. I must say there is a hometown feeling to Beantown’s bars that I’ve yet to experience in Manhattan (especially along Third Avenue after one of my Friday night stand-up gigs). Then again, I don’t believe Boston has any bar that could match Desmond’s on P.A. South and 30th for that total, low-end experience.

  2. Great post, Steve. I agree with both assessments on this. I love New York City for sure, but Boston is better by far (says the New England girl). There are pros and cons to the bars/restaurant in both areas. But let’s face it, you can’t compete with the Bah-stan accent.

  3. Well, Repman, I was having a conversation earlier this week about this with Sam Adams and I am of the belief that there are more micro-breweries in the Boston market than in New York. To me, New Yorkers tend to go with “what’s popular” at that time. Cheers!