While Super Bowl fans will be glued to the TV Sunday night, those working behind the scenes at area sports bars or restaurants may find themselves feeling a little, well, jilted.
As it turns out, more and more people are opting to stay home for the big night.
“I think the only people who will be in here (Sunday night) are the ones that don’t realize it’s the Super Bowl,” said Mike Simmons, assistant general manager at Harper’s restaurant.
Simmons said while the Five Points eatery had tried “different things” in years past to woo Super Bowl fans, this year the restaurant won’t be doing anything out of the ordinary.
“We’re gearing up for a nice, slow Sunday,” he said.
Once considered ground zero for that almighty of football experiences, the neighborhood bar and grill no longer seems to be the preferred venue for Super Bowl fans.
Bart Kraeger, kitchen manager at Lexington’s Wild Hare Sports Cafe, said while the bar and grill would be offering various Budweiser and food specials throughout the game, they, too, haven’t done much in the way of special preparations or advertising.
“It’s more about the house parties now,” Kraeger said. So, with more than 25 TVs spread throughout the bar, football fans at the Augusta Road establishment may find themselves with their very own TV screen. “It’s not nearly what it used to be for sports bars,” he said. “Last year, we were only about half full.”
More and more, people want to gather around their big-screened TV at home, with fellow fans, friends, family members and neighbors, for their Super Bowl experience.
“That’s been the growing trend,” said Tom Sponseller, president of the S.C. Hospitality Association.
Sponseller said as the Super Bowl party continued to be perfected in houses across America, the bulk of the restaurant business has shifted to takeout that day.
“A lot of places are aiming for that take-out business and running specials for delivery,” he said.
Sponseller said the state association recently received data from the national association that supports those findings.
“They estimated 12 million people will go to a bar to watch the game,” Sponseller said. “On the other hand, 48 million will get takeout to go from a restaurant.”
Sponseller said different things could be contributing to the decline in visiting a sports bar.
“Sunday night is typically a work night,” he said. “And people who are drinking and watching the game don’t want to take a chance on a DUI.”
Or it could be that Super Bowl fans just want to spend that time with friends.
Manager Tom Perry said Harbison’s Total Wine retail shop was seeing increased foot traffic Friday as people came in, looking for ideas.
“A lot of people have a good idea of what they want,” he said. “We typically help them with quantities.”
In addition to its regular Thursday night beer tasting, Perry said the store would be holding a Sunday beer tasting from noon to 6 p.m., just in time to give customers some shopping ideas.
“This week especially, we always order up,” he said. “So we have enough for whatever anyone needs.”
Meanwhile, back at the Wild Hare, Kraeger said they’ll still be there and open for business Sunday night.
Will he pulling for the Patriots or the Giants?
“Neither,” he said. “I’ll be rooting for the Bears once the season starts next year.”