Other University Area bars see uptick in traffic, profit after Chuck's and Lucy's departure

Faegan's, DJ's On the Hill, and Harry's report more student drinkers this semester after demolition of the two popular South Crouse Avenue bars.

Surrounded by chaos, conversations blend into well-known singalongs. Nothing is discernible except the glint of a coin being tossed high in the air. The chatter is all-consuming between Syracuse students of all years.

Patrons at Faegan's Pub on Wednesday nights get to flip a coin for their drinks. If they call the flip correctly, they get a beer for a dollar. If they call it incorrectly, their drink is full-price. A correct call used to get the winner a free drink, but a recent crackdown on the enforcement of New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Law led to the change in policy. 

“Our sales have gone way up."
Mike Cauchon, DJ's general manager

People leave the bar with looks of glee or dejection depending on how they fared. The risk in the flip is minimal, but the joy it brings to get a beer for a dollar is on nearly every face in the bar.

"Flip Night" is an institution on the University Hill. Faegan’s had an abnormally large croud of approximately 925 people pay cover for it August 30, according to barman Colin Santacroce.

The closure of Hungry Chuck's and The Orange Crate, commonly known as Lucy's, left a space that is reflected in Faegan's inflated numbers. Chuck's and Lucy's were bought by BLVD Equities of New Jersey and demolished in preparation for the building of an apartment complex that is due to open in 2018. It will replace the entire street that also housed restaurants Funk ’n’ Waffles and AppeThaizing.

Chad Rapps, a senior engineering student, thought that changed the dynamic of the first Flip Night.

“It was way bigger,” Rapps said. “People would go to Chuck’s and chill there afterwards when Flip got too busy. This time it stayed really busy. Nobody really left.”

Santacroce admitted that the inflated number of students at this year’s first Flip Night had something to do with the lack of competition.

“It's certainly affected by the lack of Chuck’s particularly,” Sanatcroce said.

This realization has lead Faegan’s to increase promotion this fall to capitalize on the gap left by Chuck’s and Lucy’s. Santacroce said the bar is running a variety of specials on drinks and themed nights like world beer tours. It is also looking to capture the fraternity and sorority crowd.

“Something where they could hold a mixer would be an optimal situation.” Santacroce said.

The closing of Chuck’s and Lucy’s has left the options for students on the University Hill limited. Apart from Faegan’s, Harry’s Bar at 700 S. Crouse Ave. and DJ’s On the Hill at 161 Marshall St. are the only other true bars in the immediate university area.

Mike Cauchon, general manager of DJ’s, said that the fall is always busy for them, making it hard to tell whether or not the limited competition this year has had an effect. Cauchon did admit that they have seen an improvement in the amount of money they are taking in, but would not discuss specific figures.

“We have seen a huge improvement,” Cauchon said. “Our sales have gone way up. It seems like everybody loves DJ’s.”

Like Faegan’s, Cauchon was happy to discuss the promotions they were running. One success Cauchon touted was the bar's sale of 200 VIP cards, which are gift cards that allow holders to jump the line and get inside quickly.

“We realized we were going to have giant lines this year.” Cauchon said.

Another part of Cauchon’s strategy was the Wednesday trivia night at DJ’s. Cauchon said that DJ’s had never previously been open on Wednesday.

“Flip Night’s a staple up here,” Cauchon said. “We don’t even try to compete against that.”

Cauchon said that Flip Night usually dies down around 11:30 p.m., or when it becomes too crowded. He said that DJ’s sees the run off from that.

“We are seeing a lot of new faces,” Cauchon said. “It’s nice to see that.”

The amount of people turning up at Flip Night is a good thing for Faegan’s, but Santacroce was assured that they were sticking to the 265-person fire safety capacity. On Wednesday, it definitely felt like there were more than that in the bar. It was difficult to move.

That doesn’t deter current students, though. Chad Rapps can’t wait until next week.

“I’m definitely going to go back,” Rapps said. “Even though I’m claustrophobic.”

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