Zombie Pub Crawl Is Dead-on Lucrative

Zombie Pub Crawl Is Dead-on Lucrative

The annual Zombie Pub Crawl is no nightmare for bar owners.

Every October, a horde of the undead roam the streets of the Twin Cities as part of the annual Zombie Pub Crawl, a bar hop that last year drew about 30,000 people screaming “Brains!” There’s seemingly not much to love about so-called zombies who go from bar to bar in gruesome makeup, fake blood, and raggedy clothes. Except for their disposable income.

“They are here to drink and spend money,” says Russom Solomon, owner of The Red Sea Bar and Restaurant on Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis. Solomon, whose bar has a capacity of 240, serves at least 2,000 people on the night of the crawl—inside the bar and outside in its parking lot, which is roped off for live performances and “best zombie” contests. The bar makes about 10 times the profit that night that it would on a regular weekend night, Solomon says.

“It is our best night, period,” he says. “On our second-best night of the year—the night of the West Bank Music Festival—we only do a quarter of the sales.” New Year’s Eve? “Doesn’t even compare,” Solomon says.

The Red Sea is one of nearly 30 local bars and concert venues that participate in the crawl, which means access can be difficult for mortal customers and the undead—at least those who have bought tickets and have wristbands.

The crawl started in 2005 with about 100 people wandering around a few blocks of northeast Minneapolis, dressed like zombies. The event now stretches from Minneapolis’ West Bank to St. Paul’s Midway Stadium.

One of the organizers, Taylor Carik, says the crawl has grown exponentially each year. Carik and four others have formed Zombie Productions LLC to organize the crawl—the company’s efforts include recruiting bars, attracting sponsorships, and hiring up to 40 off-duty police officers to control the crowd.

Nomad World Pub, also on Cedar Avenue, hires about 12 of its own security personnel to control the mob.

Owner Todd Smith says his bar offers a variety of craft beers, but the zombies are not show-offs. Most of the beers they buy are cheap, he says—about $3.50 per bottle. And every October, after the crawl, Smith repaints the walls of his bar to get rid of the fake bloodstains.