Erie Events Impact Downtown Business

by Brandon Boyd, Coordinator of Communications and Client Relations

GRAPHICFORARTICLEIn 2018, Erie Events drove nearly $88 million in direct spending to the Erie region. Erie Events, which operates the Erie Insurance Arena, Warner Theatre, UPMC Park and Bayfront Convention Center, is located in the heart of Erie’s downtown cultural, entertainment and sports district.

With a 2018 event attendance of 729,966, Erie Events is a major driving force that attracts people to downtown Erie.  In addition to attending events, those people also visited restaurants, bars, and other businesses. Downtown establishments prosper on event days.

Bertrand Artigues, owner of Cloud 9 Wine Bar, said he sees a direct correlation between events held in downtown Erie and how busy his business is.

“If [Erie Events] is busy, I’m busy. When we prepare, one of the first things we do is look at the Erie Events website to see what is bringing people into town,” he said. “A big piece of the pie for business here is having events downtown. When events occur, everything flourishes.”

Rochelle Carlotti, bar manager at Jekyll and Hyde’s, agreed.

“We absolutely see an influx in business when events are happening. Weekdays especially are greatly improved by downtown events. Events at the Warner and the Arena, especially Otters games, more than double our business. People often come in for dinner before the event and often stop by after for a drink.”

The Erie Insurance Arena drew 291,862 patrons in 2018, with an average of 3,423 people per game coming to see the Otters during the 2018-2019 season. UPMC Park brought in a total event attendance of 217,868 and the Bayfront Convention Center had a total event attendance of 133,686. The Warner Theatre brought in an additional 86,550 attendees.

For J.B. Innes, manager and owner of 1201 Kitchen, a Warner Theatre crowd brings in a tremendous amount of business.

“When reservations start coming in for a certain date, especially a weekday, I know something’s happening,” he said. “For us, the Warner especially does a great job in bringing in a lot of our customers.”

Downtown businesses unanimously agree that Erie Events plays a significant role in the amount of traffic they get during an event.

“When there’s events and things are going well, there’s a momentum downtown. We get bombarded. It’s fun to watch and be a part of,” Artigues said.

“These events are the cultural center of our city. They bring people in business to all of the bars, restaurants and shops downtown,” Carlotti said. “[Downtown events] bring us a large amount of business from people who may not think to stop into our establishment otherwise.”

A New Look on the Bayfront

by Gus Pine, General Manager of the Bayfront Convention Center

In the summer of 2016, Erie Events opened up the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, starting a new chapter for us on the Bayfront.

That’s because the addition of the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, along with the existing Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel solidified us as major players in the convention business. With the beautiful Bayfront Convention Center and now over 400 connected hotel rooms, we added some key elements that meeting planners were looking for.

The completion of the Courtyard proved to be the genesis of our next step. As general manager of the Bayfront Convention Center, my job is not just to think about the day-to-day operations, but also to think long-term and how we shape our future growth and direction. A key question quickly emerged. We have the Bayfront Convention Center, the Sheraton and the Courtyard – but how do we pitch them? Do we list them all out, are they separate entities? Essentially, how do we best market our resources to others in a clear, yet concise, package?

The answer was found in the creation of a collective brand. The team at Erie Events has been working with Tungsten Creative Group, a marketing organization based right here in Erie, to take our three facilities and marry them with one collective message. Now, of course, when needed we are our own brand, but when pitched as a unit to potential conventions, we will now be on the same page under one umbrella. Through our overall brand, our potential customers will truly see all that we have to offer.

I’m 100 percent convinced this will help us secure more conventions.

We have a fantastic location. It’s like a convention resort down here at the Bayfront. If you haven’t been down, stop by and see our facilities. Everything overlooks the bay, and that’s a great way to get work done.

We’ve got a great story here – we just need a vehicle to do it. Our new branding efforts, which we’ll begin unveiling in August as part of a major marketing initiative, will do just that.

We’ll also be looking to tie-in our future development in the area, including that at the former GAF site, now known as Bayfront Place. We could see the development of entertainment options, restaurants, or residential housing available at the site. We aspire to be a place where locals and travelers can mingle, and the more we have going on down here, the quicker we will reach that goal.

One of the key elements to a thriving city is the reliance on the dollars of outsiders. We can trade dollars as locals, but when travelers come in and bring in additional demand, it brings the city to another level. That’s what we’re looking to do, and we’re excited to continue the process this summer.

Happy 10th Birthday, Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel!

The Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel has been a staple of service and success in Erie’s hospitality market for the last 10 years.

On Wednesday, the Sheraton recognizes its success with an internal 10-year celebration at 3 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel that will also recognize the 11 charter member associates that opened the hotel back in 2008.

“It was 10 years ago that we opened the hotel up to the public,” said Daniel Pora, general manager of the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel. “We’ve had 10 years of great successes in that time and we are excited to recognize everyone for their hard work.”

Since it opened in 2008, the Sheraton has been atop consumer rankings in various categories. This past year, the Sheraton was in the top 3% for all Sheratons in North America for overall satisfaction, #1 for Restaurant Overall Food Quality and #1 for Restaurant Overall Service for all Sheratons in North America, and Top 2% for Overall Property Style and Design and top 2% for Overall Hotel Condition for all Sheratons in North America. The hotel has also finished ranked #1 in the Sheraton brand in Guest Satisfaction for five of the years that the hotel has been open.

“I am very proud of all the associates’ hard work, dedication and passion for excellent customer service and making sure the hotel is very clean and well maintained on a daily basis,” Pora said. “We have an amazing family of associates at the Sheraton and their hard work certainly has paid off over the years.”

In addition to its exemplary service for guests, the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel has also rooted itself into local programs and provided opportunity for growth in the region.

The Sheraton’s partnership with Mercyhurst University’s Hospitality Department has proved fruitful for both parties – currently, the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel boasts six managers, three supervisors, seven interns and 15 hourly associates all from Mercyhurst University. The Sheraton has and will continue to hire local talent and allow them to thrive at one of Erie’s top hotels.

The Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel also partners with Erie High School and Strong Vincent Middle School. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, six students with special needs from Erie High School come to get on-the-job and life experiences. Every other Friday, 16 students with special needs from Strong Vincent Middle School assist in the laundry, kitchen, restaurant, and perform light maintenance work.

“We are very fortunate to have such a great working relationship with the Erie School district and local community,” Pora said. “It is very rewarding for not only the students in these programs, but for the hotel associates that get the opportunity to work with them and help make a positive impact on their education.”

The Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel looks to continue its connection with local programs and continue celebrating success in the future.

Familiar Face at Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel Named Executive Chef

Kristian Young has called a handful of cities home. His journey has brought him across the country, landing in Erie as the Executive Chef for the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel. He’s lived in Chicago, Oregon, Los Angeles and Scottsdale. Young says he’s now grown his own roots in the fourth largest city in Pennsylvania and doesn’t seem himself leaving anytime soon. The Bayfront Grille isn’t the first Erie restaurant he’s worked in though. Young started his career in Erie as a Sous Chef at the Avalon Hotel, then moved to the Erie Club as a Sous Chef and most recently working at the Sheraton as a Sous Chef since 2011.

His talents are staying at the Sheraton Bayfront Grille, but will be used in a new capacity as the Executive Chef. He learned his craft at Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Arizona, remembering the sweltering heat while cooking during the summer months. Young now has four seasons to craft a menu around — summer, fall, winter and spring — each giving him the chance to show his creative side. “French Continental Fusion — French paired with American is my favorite to cook,” he says. Young’s unique style in the kitchen comes from his time spent in nearly every region of the U.S. That, he says, allows him to bring national and international influences into his recipes at Erie’s magnificent waterfront restaurant. During his time as a Sous Chef at the Sheraton, the Bayfront Grille was awarded the #1 status within the Sheraton brand for the last two years.

“It would be foolish not to want to be [the Executive Chef],” Young said. “It’s one of the premier restaurant in the region and that’s why I want to be here.” It’s now up to Young to prove himself within the company and the region — a goal he says comes with his new title.

Young’s first day in his new role will be November 22nd. He wants Erie residents who have yet to dine at the restaurant to stop in, reminding everyone that although the restaurant is located in a hotel, it’s not just for guests to enjoy. Young compares it to other local restaurants in the same price range saying, “You can go elsewhere, but you’ll only leave here full and satisfied.”

Restaurant hours are Monday through Saturday 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM; Sunday 6:30 AM to 9:00 PM with hours extended Memorial Day through Labor Day.

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