Man talking(l+r), Empty martini glass(c)

Shyripa Alexandr/Shutterstock @pat__light/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘We did $0 in sales’: Bar owner shows what the other side of Dry January looks like

'I drink to support local businesses.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Jan 9, 2024   Updated on Jan 9, 2024, 11:10 am CST

In a video confessional that has ticked up to 377,000 views, TikToker, bar owner, and former Red Sox MLB Pitcher Pat Light (@pat__light) exposed an often overlooked aspect of the bar and restaurant industry during Dry January.

Speaking directly to the camera, Pat revealed, “Most people don’t think about this when it comes to Dry January. Those of you new, I’m a bar owner here in [Hoboken], New Jersey, right outside New York City… the week after New Year’s Eve is, like, the slowest week in the world.”

This candor from Pat shares the unforeseen impact of Dry January which has become a growing trend in recent years. With seven restaurants under his belt, Pat says he experienced a day with “zero dollars in sales” in the typically bustling town of Hoboken—a stark contrast to the rest of the year. This trend has highlighted a focus on health and wellbeing, especially after the booze-heavy holiday season.

But as bar sales plummet, gym memberships soar. The start of a new year, fueled by resolutions and guilt from holiday indulgences, sees a spike in gym memberships. People are eager to shed the extra pounds and embark on a healthier lifestyle. This trend aligns with the rise of Dry January, a voluntary sobriety month gaining popularity as more people become health-conscious. According to gym statistics, approximately 12.5% of all new gym memberships begin in January. Another shocking statistic? Around 80% of new gym members who join in January quit within five months.

Nevertheless, the movement has sparked discussions on social media, with users advocating for non-alcoholic options at bars in Light’s comments section.

“There’s a big sobriety movement and I’m here for it. As someone who doesn’t drink, offer mocktails,” suggested one user.

Another shared, “I quit drinking a year ago. Bars should offer more non-alcoholic choices besides water.”

Yet, some users cheekily admit to drinking in January to support local businesses. “Thats why I drink. Its not for me, but its for the business owners and bartenders just trying to make a living,” quipped one, and another said simply, “I drink to support local businesses.”  

@pat__light I never thought about these types of things until I got into the industry and started owning bars. ##patlight##hoboken##hobokennj##dryjanuary##jerseycity##hobokenbars##nyc ♬ original sound – Pat Light

The year 2023 was tumultuous, marked by political tensions, labor strikes, global conflicts, and rising costs. This backdrop might explain the heightened indulgence during the holidays, but the focus on mental health and healthier habits is shaping new trends. Bars specializing in mocktails are emerging nationwide, catering to those seeking a social atmosphere minus the hangovers.

Echoing Pat’s experience, one user commented, “I’m a hair stylist and early on in my career I had to budget for a slower January. It’s a business bud.” This sentiment suggests that industries beyond bars and restaurants are also adapting to the January slowdown.

As we step into 2024, it seems Dry January might become a regular fixture, impacting various businesses. Pat’s insights offer a unique glimpse into the challenges and adaptations required in an ever-evolving landscape. Perhaps it’s a call for more creative business strategies or a move towards a more health-conscious approach to socializing. Either way, Dry January is leaving its mark, and businesses are taking note.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Pat via TikTok comment for further information.

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*First Published: Jan 9, 2024, 3:00 pm CST