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Jersey City News

Golf tournament filled hotels but not restaurants

By PAUL TAKAHASHI JERSEY JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

The Barclays Golf Tournament brought thousands of visitors to Jersey City last month to watch stars like Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson tee off at the Liberty National Golf Course. But as far as the tournament being a hole-in-one for the local economy, businesses are reporting both birdies and bogeys.

Hundreds of visitors crashed at area hotels, many of which were at full capacity during the four-day tournament held Aug. 27 to Aug. 30. The W Hotel in Hoboken, as well as the Hyatt Regency and the Courtyard Marriott in Jersey City were at 100 percent capacity every night, hotel officials said.

"It certainly had a great impact," said Deborah Wanko, director of sales at the Courtyard Marriott, which has 187 rooms. "The tournament brought us into the sold-out status. It was fabulous."

But some restaurants were apparently too far from the fairway to attract tourist dollars.

Edward's Steakhouse, at 239 Marin Blvd. in Jersey City, offered free wine with an entree for ticket holders, but only two people took advantage of the offer, according to owner Dan Delavega.

He thinks his restaurant saw only 20 extra customers over the four-day stretch.

The turnout "was a bit disappointing," Delavega said. "It's not the city's fault, since the PGA moved all the parking to Bayonne. But it hurt us...If you park in Bayonne, you're not going to drive to Jersey City to have dinner."

However, Delavega was still supportive of the event, especially since golfers Brian Gay and Davis Love III came to his restaurant.

"It's not a bad thing because the tournament appeared to be a success," he said. "It just would've been nice if we could have seen more business."

Mhairi Robertson, the manager of Bistro La Source, 85 Morris St. in Jersey City, also saw no significant jump in business and blamed the soggy weather and the lure of Manhattan's incomparable restaurant scene.

"But maybe people are now more aware of Jersey City - that it's actually quite a nice place," she said.

On the other hand, the Liberty House Restaurant at 76 Audrey Zapp Drive - a golf swing away from the golf club - saw a significant boost in bar sales and dinner reservations.

"Sunday was the best day for us," General Manager John Hanson said. "From walk-ins from the tournament, we had 100 additional dinner reservations... We definitely had a unique location in terms of the Barclays."

Zylos Steakhouse, located within the W Hotel in Hoboken, also had a "surge in business," according to manager Scott Aseltine.

Before The Barlcays, Jersey City anticipated a $3 million influx into local businesses as a result of the tournament, and Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy said he was "thrilled" with the event.

"The exposure and marketing we got for our city is priceless," Healy said. "You can't put a price on positive coverage we got because of the Barclays." A full analysis of the economic impact of the tournament is being prepared, he said.

Despite two days of rain, The Barclays saw a 35 percent increase in ticket sales compared to last year's event in Paramus, according to Peter Mele, the tournament's executive director.

The tournament also realized a 40 percent increase in attendance from last year, attracting between 20,000 to 25,000 people each day, he said.

"The weather certainly had an effect," Mele said. "Ticket sales would've been higher and we would've had a larger attendance and more walk-up business.

"But the intangible aspect is that Jersey City was showcased to the world for four days. Now people know what Jersey City has to offer."