A question popped in my head recently. I have had the pleasure of watching episodes of Cheers as my schedule has been a little off-kilter and the show is broadcast on basically 10 cable networks so it is on at all hours.
Cheers Beacon Hill
So, I began to wonder if a bar like Cheers (as portrayed in the show – I know there is a replica one at Faneuil Hall) could survive in todays society.
Now, understand that when the show was originally broadcasted, my ability to go into taverns was hindered by the legal drinking age. So for me, and many of my age group, Cheers was what a bar should be. Indeed, we were quite wrong for the most part. Cheers was much more like drinking at an Elks Club than it was a sports bar.
Kevin McHale tends bar at Cheers.
So, with my extensive personal research into the inner workings of sports bar culture, I have come up with an answer to my question. Could Cheers exist in today’s market?
Now, certainly I have always searched for that place where everybody knows my name. The only thing close I have found has been a greasy spoon in Brooklyn. However, we must consider todays environment. The Cheers format bar has taken over the American landscape in the form of Chilis, TGI Fridays and many others. The sports bar has also been corporatized with Hooters, Buffalo Wild Wings and Tilted Kilt. Also, all these places serve food. At Cheers, you could go upstairs to Melvilles if you wanted, but in the bar it was pretzels.
While Cheers did offer a pool room, it had one color television at one end of the cavernous bar with which to watch sports or Jeopardy. With so much cable and satellite television available today, you could be caught trying to decide if you are going to show the Sox, Pats, Celts, or Bruins. A riot would ensue.
Also, Cheers had professional bartenders and waitresses. Not actors who needed cash. These were career professionals. Does this exist today outside of people working at the bar that they own? Not too common.
Cheers Beacon Hill (originally the Bull & Finch Pub) was not immune to financial issues even with the customer base attending just to visit the Cheers exterior site. They had to fire bartender Eddie Doyle who had 35 years of tenure (he started working before the show aired). How can a bar that does not have that tourist income stand a chance?
Yes, I am sorry to admit that the state of the tavern industry would not allow for the existence of the quintessential American tavern, Cheers. Maybe if Diane stopped reading books by the bar and actually served drinks.