To the surprise of no one, the coronavirus crisis has led to the cancellation of Center City District Sips, the Wednesday happy-hour promotion that would have begun its 17th season in June at a hundred or so bars and restaurants.
“Sips is taking a summer vacation this year,” the organizers announced on Instagram Wednesday. It will not return even in an abbreviated version if the restriction on public gatherings is eased before Labor Day. "We will continue to find a variety of ways to support our Center City bars and restaurants now and through the summer,” a spokesperson said.
Anywhere there are crowds and alcohol, there is controversy, and Sips has become a hot-button issue. Last year, The Inquirer invited two bar owners to debate the pros and cons.
Veteran bar man Joe Gunn wrote: “The problem of having things like $2 tacos isn’t the hit to your profit margins, it’s attracting the dreaded 21- to 25-year-old professional male. Aside from the department of health, these are the worst people to be in the building.” An online Inquirer poll that found that 70% of respondents chose “Hate it! I’ll never go to a Sips bar on a Wednesday,” while 24% chose “Meh. I go sometimes, but not every week,” and only 6% said, “Love it! I try to go every week.”
But the crowds seemed to impress bar owner Teddy Sourias, who countered: “While the initial Sips discounted price points bring customers in the door, these patrons typically stay after the promotion ends and turn into future repeat customers.”