Rangers fans flock to Queens bars during Stanley Cup run


| lguerre@queenscourier.com |

New York Rangers

A sea of blue shirts means green for Queens businesses.

Bar and restaurant owners say now that the New York Rangers are paired against the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference finals, fans are wearing Rangers apparel and filling up bar stools all around Queens.

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“It’s exciting, so I came to watch with other fans,” said Gregg Cullum, who was watching game four at Bourbon Street in Bayside. “The atmosphere, compared to sitting back on your couch, is much more exciting.”

The last time the Rangers won the coveted Stanley Cup was in 1994. After that the team appeared in and out of the playoffs, but hasn’t reached the conference final game since the 1996-1997 campaign.

Owners said the success has fans watching again — and flooding bars with blue jerseys, which means more green bills.

“With the Knicks losing we’ve got nothing but the Rangers now,” said Cary O’Connor, owner of Safari Beach Club in Bayside. “But it’s definitely improved our weekday business.” Studio Square in Long Island City said fans are rushing to watch the games, because word has gotten out about the bar’s 50 and 60 inch screens.

“We’ve had hundreds of people out for Ranger games,” said Peter Mason, the chief marketing officer for Studio Square. “It’s definitely picked up as [the Rangers] went deeper.”

Michael Strawberry, manager of Strawberry’s Sport Grill in Douglaston, said fans come “suited and booted” to watch the games at former Mets star Daryl’s restaurant.

“Everybody’s excited for what the rangers are doing,” Michael said.

To go along with the influx of fans, businesses have also added special deals.

Bourbon Street in Bayside is decorated with a blue Rangers flag waving as if to call fans to what they call “Blueshirt mania at Bourbon Street.” The bar has drink and food specials, $3.50 pints, 20 cent wings and 2 for 1 appetizer during the games.

At Studio Square a pitcher of blue moon and two shots of Jim Beam Devil’s Cut is $20 and Mason promised, “We’ll do that for every Ranger game until either the season’s over or the Rangers are out.”

And some owners are hoping the Rangers stay in, from a business standpoint.

“When their winning the atmosphere is much better than when they are losing,” said O’Connor. He added, “If they make it to the Stanley Cup, it will be nuts.”

Additional reporting by Terence Cullen