Food & Drink

'Pokémon Go' Is Going to Make Restaurants and Bars Tons of Money

pokemon twitter
GianniJaccoma/Thrillist/Screenshot via Twitter/GoBobbo

If you have been living under some Poké-phobic rock -- or just have a career, requited relationships, or otherwise fulfilling pursuits to complete your day -- Pokémon Go is a smartphone game that allows you pick up fake Pokémon in real-life locations using your phone's camera and GPS system. It's become inexplicably pervasive and apparently more popular than casual sex

But what's really exciting here is the real-world effects it's almost incidentally catalyzed, particularly in the food and drink industries. Some restaurants and bars have been filled with the decidedly not-real Japanese epilepsy monsters, and the game's popularity is bringing tons of customers into such establishments simply to catch a new Pokémon.

Consider the hysteria in places designated "Pokémon Gyms" (a spot where you can battle computer-controlled Pokemon), like the Central Park location above. This shit is actually drawing people to random places in hordes.

Some restaurants are conveniently located next to a gym or "Poké Stop" (a designated public space where you can find items and rewards related to the game), and some happen to be gyms or Poké Stops themselves. More people means more business. And while locations can't control when, or even if, they are selected (as of right now, the app is the only entity that can control when a location is a Poké Stop or gym. For example, bougie NYC eatery Balthazar is a Poké Stop -- it definitely did not sign up for that.), players can purchase a Pokémon lure to place on a gym or Poké Stop that does exactly what you think it would: draws Pokemon to that location.

So, if your pub happens to be next to a Poké Stop, you can buy a lure, bring the Pokémon, and suck up all the spillover traffic. It's like shooting Magikarp in a barrel. And much cheaper than paying people to give your restaurant five stars on Yelp!.

As capitalism is our great nation's main export, people are starting to figure this out:

It's only a matter of time before a big-time food chain (like McDonald's, or Starbucks, or Chipotle) inks a deal with Nintendo, turning every McLocation into a McGym, bringing hordes of players in to spend their days sipping McFlurries and competing over the Squirtle on the soda fountain. 

Ultimately, the game -- even if it's a mere fad in the pan -- has proven to be a viable, organic way of bringing people out of their homes, and into public locations. Which, even if semi-annoying to some restaurant workers, should amount to good news for the service industry. 

If I was still a server, you better believe I'd be dropping lures like the Gorton's Fisherman during my shift. It's just smart business.

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He thinks this game isn't really a game at all. It's just some thing that you do.  Follow him: @wilfulton.