Restaurants, hotels and a plant distributor are among those ringing up sales from tournament organizers, players and fans.
Even before the first putt, the U.S. Open has scored victories for many Washington businesses.
Thanks to the tournament, El Gaucho Hospitality’s president and chief operating officer, Chad Mackay, expects sales to triple this week. El Gaucho operates restaurants in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue and Portland, as well as an inn and another restaurant named Aqua by El Gaucho in Seattle.
Mackay said the 14 private rooms at the restaurant’s Seattle and Tacoma locations and its Aqua restaurant are booked every day this week. Main dining-room reservations are filling up day by day; the Tacoma location’s 150-seat main dining room is booked Saturday night.
It’s not a recent development, either.
“Literally the (2014) U.S. Open was done, and those planning people were on the phone, booking for this U.S. Open,” Mackay said.
These private rooms cost up to $500 to reserve, and customers have to spend a minimum of $1,000 to $5,000 on food and beverages, depending on the size of the party. That may not be too hard with a 12-ounce filet mignon steak priced at $68 and a half-ounce glass of 40-year-old single malt Balvenie going for $250.
Mackay also said the restaurant ordered $20,000 to $30,000 worth of wine for the Tacoma location that will retail for about $60,000 to $90,000.
Other merchants have benefitted from contracts with the U.S. Golf Association, which conducts the championship. Windmill Gardens, a Sumner retail and wholesale ornamental-plant distributor, was tapped to provide floral arrangements.
Ben DeGoede, general manager of Windmill Gardens’ retail division, said the company supplied 300 to 400 potted plants, 150 hanging baskets and more than 600 flats of flowers. DeGoede said the invoice was in the upper-five-figure range.
“It was nine truckloads of plants,” he said. “It was one of our single biggest invoices that we’ve ever had for one set of deliveries for one location.”
The lodging industry, too, has seen benefits from dealing with the USGA directly. It signed a contract in 2008 with Courtyard Marriott Tacoma Downtown that booked three-quarters of the hotel’s 162 rooms between June 7-22.
“They had to do the contracts for the hotel rooms before they would sign with Chambers Bay to hold the event there,” said Carol Pica, director of sales for the Courtyard Marriott Tacoma Downtown, which is booked Wednesday night through Monday. “They had to be assured that they could get the rates they needed for their travelers and the availability of rooms.”
She said the rates the organization paid were above the hotel’s regular nightly rates but lower than current public rates, which are adjusted for this special event.
Last week, the Courtyard Marriott Tacoma Downtown’s website listed guest rooms for $399 for June 15 and June 16, and $599 for June 19 and June 20. Similarly, the Best Western Plus Tacoma Dome Hotel nearly doubled its standard guest-room rate to $300 for June 14-16 and June 22, with no rooms available in between.
Mike Pickett, owner of Pavco Flight Center at Tacoma Narrows Airport, said he has had 11 private jets in and out of the airport since Friday. Prices vary for different size aircraft, but they average about $300 for the handling fee and $300 a night to park a jet at the airport, he said.
He wishes the airport had gotten more exposure, though, because he hired five new employees to help and is leasing a special piece of equipment to move the larger jets.
He can fit at least 15 more planes, he said.
Next door at The Hub restaurant, owner Pat Nagle said he saw a 30 percent increase in sales last week as word got out that players were landing in Gig Harbor for practice rounds. Due to the high volumes, a sign on the door warns customers the restaurant is running a limited menu.
“This kind of exposure is going to help us get where we want to be, customer-wise,” Nagle said about the 2-year-old restaurant.
All of that money adds up. The Pierce County Economic Development Department estimates the championship will pump $140 million into the regional economy, with state-tax revenue expected to exceed $8 million.
“It’s not just the flower pots that the U.S. Open is purchasing from Windmill Gardens,” said Denise Dyer, department director. “I look out my window, and I can see banners that are hung on street signs welcoming visitors. … When you think of the U.S. Open, you traditionally think of the tickets and the merchandise tent. But it’s that pre-work, pre-issues that go on, too.
“My personal observation is, this is as good as it gets,” she said.
Seattle Times business reporter Coral Garnick contributed to this report.