As baseball returns to the ballpark by the Bay, it brings with it brisk business for the neighborhood.
Barry Zito will cut the ribbon on six months of excitement, agony and joy at China Basin when he tosses out the first pitch to the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park today. And at the numerous bars and restaurants surrounding the ballpark, it marks one of the biggest days of the year and also kicks off six months of good business.
“Opening Day is one of the top days,” said Grace Usuna, a manager at Pedro’s Cantina on King Street. “You’ve got World Series, Super Bowl and Opening Day.”
Kenny Hanlon, the bar manager of MoMo’s at the corner of Second and King streets, said his establishment will fill up soon after the doors open at 9 this morning, and the party will continue right up until last call.
“Just talking about it makes me tired,” he said, chuckling. “I could use a nap.”
Hanlon said the first weekend of the season is so busy that the bar doesn’t have enough space to store all of its alcohol.
“We have a trailer behind [the restaurant] to keep another 130 cases of beer and 30 kegs,” he said. “We can’t fit it all in my room.”
But the home opener is just the beginning; Hanlon said sales are three or four times higher throughout the season than during the months with no baseball. And if the Giants are winning, everyone does better.
Bartenders and waiters, who live off gratuity, also benefit when the boys of summer take the field. Milana Sales, a waitress at Pedro’s, said offseason shifts are hit or miss, so her income fluctuates from night to night, week to week.
But when the Giants are on the diamond, she’s guaranteed to make money whenever she works.
“In February, you need extra savings,” she said. “With the Giants, you know how much you’re going to make for the next five months.”
More business also means additional shifts. On a recent weeknight, two servers worked the floor at Pedro’s, but on game day the wait staff expands to eight, so employees such as Sales receive more opportunities to earn tips.
“It helps with the budget,” she said.
While the increased revenue pays the bills, the festive atmosphere around AT&T Park also creates a lively work environment for everyone in the restaurant industry.
“It’s fun because you’re amped up,” said Amber Frederick, a bartender at Polo Grounds on Third Street. “It’s just exciting; it’s a good energy.”