Attaching a celebrity name to a bar in hopes of drawing traffic is hardly a new marketing technique. From places like Harry Carey’s and Mike Ditka’s in Chicago, to Cheli’s Chili Bar in Detroit, celebrity ownership is a proven draw.
So how does it work if the owner is not quite an A-list celebrity?
We’ll see, as former Detroit sports writer Rob Parker embarks on a new career as a pub owner with the opening of Rob Parker’s Play-by-Play Sports Bar in downtown Detroit. The idea will no doubt draw the occasional chuckle, particularly from those who choose to remember Parker more for how he left his most recent writing job with The Detroit News, and less for the work he contributed in the years prior. Parker, it may be remembered, parted ways with The News after lobbing what many considered to be an inappropriate question at former Lions coach Rod Marinelli during a press conference.
But leading up to that episode, Parker had already established himself as a prominent (often galvanizing) figure to anybody tuned into the Detroit sports scene. Between his Parker & The Man radio show, his columns in both The News and the Detroit Free Press, and his work on local and national TV, Parker without question grew to become, dare we say, a celebrity.
And it’s likely that his name alone will be enough to draw people into Play-by-Play, a stylishly decorated sports bar that features all of the typical sports bar caveats, and a bit more.
Parker plays off his sports journalism background by featuring a menu that tips its hat to some of the biggest names in Detroit sports broadcasting today. Aside from his former print journalism brethren, he salutes them all, from play-by-play announcers (as with The Brandy Turkey Club Delight), radio hosts (try Stony’s Philly Chicken Sandwich), and TV news anchors (see The Bernie Tuna Melt). If you don’t know who those dishes make reference to, than you likely aren’t as rabid a sports fan as are the many who developed a love-hate relationship with Parker over the years.
Knock him if you choose, but give Parker kudos for showing a confidence in the city in which he made his sports writing name. Featuring an outdoor patio on Broadway, Play-by-Play enters not only a city where business continues to struggle, but also a sports bar market already crowded with popular hangouts like Cheli’s, Hockeytown Café, and many others.
If it works, no doubt any of the following reasons will have played a role. First, they’ve built a nice place. In addition to seating at the long bar and surrounding tables, Play-by-Play features lounge style seating for small parties in both the front and the back. Second, it enjoys a prime location down Broadway from Comerica Park as the Tigers season gets underway. A nice Red Wings playoff run wouldn’t hurt. And third, it’s got a name attached to it, one that, for various reasons, will intrigue many people in the Detroit area.
Admit it, you’re already curious.
FOR MORE INFO: Visit Rob Parker’s Play-by-Play Sports Bar at 1315 Broadway St. near Gratiot and Randolph.