NJ bars load up on beer and corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day
Although the unofficial celebrations started earlier in March, New Jersey bars are gearing up for this week's official St. Patrick's Day.
From the beer to the corned beef to the decorations, the holiday is big business for the Garden State.
In fact, the National Retail Federation estimates 125 million Americans will celebrate St. Paddy's Day 2016, spending $4.4 billion.
The average St. Patrick's party-goer is expected to spend $35.40. Among those expenditures, this is the least surprising statistic of all. An estimated 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed for the holiday.
Many New Jersey bars can attest to that consumption first-hand.
Barry O'Donovan, owner of the Kilkenny House in Cranford, said St Patrick's Day is, by far, the biggest day of the year for his bar.
"Normally, we do maybe six kegs of Guinness a week," he said. "On Patrick's Day alone, we do 10 kegs."
Hallie's Harp and Pub in Metuchen is ready for the onslaught of Irish beer consumption. Moshe Atzbi said there are several types of Guinness that his bar offers, but the standard black and gold version is still the most popular. They have 12 barrels on standby for Thursday, which is also one of their biggest drinking days of the year.
"At least, three times as much beer as normal," Atzbi said.
Of course, St Patrick's Day is more than just a day of drinking. What makes the holiday more complete than corned beef and cabbage? Across the nation, there's a 70 percent spike in cabbage shipments this week.
O'Donovan has been prepping their corned beef for nearly two weeks.
"We will do 2,000 pounds this week," O'Donovan. "That's two tons of corned beef."
Hallie's expects to churn it out corned beef and cabbage, as well.
"We've taken in delivery of around 1,500 pounds of corned beef and about 300 pounds of cabbage," Atzbi said. "The corned beef is more like five times as much (as normal),"
Two other variables have New Jersey bars projecting big crowds for St Paddy's 2016. The fact that it falls on a Thursday, as well as the first full day of the NCAA Tournament could boost the bar turnout this week.
O'Donovan has one more theory about why so many New Jerseyans embrace the Irish culture for the holiday.
"It's a warm welcome, and I think that's probably the most important thing," he explained. "And everybody just wants to be Irish that day."
One thing is for certain. The next few days will be non-stop, serving pints and corned beef and cabbage, for bars around the Garden State.
"Monday, we get to rest," O'Donovan said.