Few people are happier than Garrett Harker that the Red Sox return to Fenway Wednesday with a chance to win the World Series in six games. The only thing that would make it better: winning in seven.
Each home game in the Red Sox postseason has meant extra profits for Harker’s Eastern Standard restaurant and the adjacent Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square. That translates into bigger earnings in tips and overtime for his staff of servers, bartenders, busers, dishwashers, and hosts. During the first two games of the series, sales of strip steaks and oysters tripled and wine sales jumped nearly 50 percent from the typical Wednesday and Thursday night in late October.
“Every restaurant in town would like to be us right now,” Harker told his staff last week in a pre-game pep talk.
And every city might want to be Boston, where — win or lose — each World Series game is expected to bring in about $6 million in additional revenue from visitors to the city, according to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. A seven-game series, with four played in Boston, could mean $24 million more pumping through the city’s hotels, restaurants, and tourist venues — money that eventually ripples into the broader economy as business owners and employees spend, save, and invest.
Rebecca Lewis, for example, an Eastern Standard server, earned an extra $100 per shift in tips during last week’s game days, waiting on free-spenders ready to party, such as a young couple, dressed head-to-toe in Red Sox gear, who plunked down $238 for a bottle of Burgundy. She plans to put her World Series money, including wages for extra hours, into savings to buy a home and a shopping spree at a favorite Boston vintage clothing shop, Buffalo Exchange
“They’re coming in to celebrate,” Lewis said of customers. “And they’re ready to lay down a little cash — or a lot.”
At a restaurant like Eastern Standard, which opened in 2005, everyone from proprietor to dishwasher feels the boon. Postseason baseball brings a rush of reservation requests from out-of-town guests, from CEOs to movie stars. Last week, the game-day bar crowd included 2004 World Series Red Sox teammates Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon, and Derek Lowe.
It is a crowd willing to pay top dollar for game-day tickets, so many do not skimp on pregame or postgame experiences. Island Creek Oyster Bar sold more than 3,000 oysters in two nights, and customers at Eastern Standard spent more than $11,000 on wine.
The restaurant was a semifinalist for this year’s James Beard Foundation award for outstanding service, but bar manager Kevin Martin said the staff’s spirits are flying high for the Red Sox as well. Dressed in a suit and tie, Martin oversaw the operation from the floor last week, helping behind the bar when needed.
An employee of seven years, he said he can nearly double his typical tips during the World Series. A good year for the restaurant could also mean a bigger end-of-year bonus.
He puts the extra earnings into an account at Bank of America.
“My Dad always said, ‘It’s not what you spend, it’s what you don’t spend that counts,’ ” he said.
The extra money also makes kitchen worker Juan Echeverri smile. The 27-year-old acts as a utility player in the kitchen, doing everything from food preparation to washing dishes. He worked two extra shifts last week, and the long, hot hours behind the scenes mean more pay and a nice vacation.
He has a trip to Barcelona planned in January with his brother. The Colombian native said he wants to visit his favorite soccer team’s home turf. “I love baseball and soccer,” Echeverri explained.
For Harker, this October is better than last year’s, when the Red Sox season was as gloomy as his empty restaurant patio closing up for winter. This year, the World Series games in Boston are being played on weekdays instead of already-busy weekends, an added bonus.
Some customers are loyal fans and season-ticket holders who simply could not get World Series seats, but want to sit within the orbit of Fenway Park and soak up the ambiance.
Last week, Harker offered two guests who took a bus from New Hampshire just to be closer to Fenway tickets to the game at face value. They ecstatically took him up on the offer.
October revenues will probably increase 15 percent from last year, and for him, the extra money acts as a cushion during down times, from recessions to major storms that shut down the city.
“You think, maybe this makes up for the blizzard last year,” Harker said. “You stay balanced.”