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COVID-19

Bars and restaurants brace for Super Bowl Sunday

Kristin Schwab Feb 4, 2021
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This year's Super Bowl viewing experience will be a far cry from last year's revelry in packed sports bars. Phillip Pacheco/Getty Images
COVID-19

Bars and restaurants brace for Super Bowl Sunday

Kristin Schwab Feb 4, 2021
Heard on:
This year's Super Bowl viewing experience will be a far cry from last year's revelry in packed sports bars. Phillip Pacheco/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Forget the intricate plays happening on the field. Jim Fris is focused on his team in the kitchen.

“It’s mass chaos 4 to 6:30,” he said.

Fris owns PJW Restaurant Group, which has sports bars in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He said takeout now makes up the majority of his business on game days. But he still expects his restaurants to be as busy as they can be — even on the outside.

“When you’re looking in at, you know, 75-inch TVs, it’s not hard to see,” said Fris, who sees a lot of customers stream the audio on their phones.

It won’t be the usual party this Super Bowl Sunday, with indoor gatherings restricted and dining restrictions in flux around the country.

New Jersey is extending its curfew past 10 p.m., though that’s still the lights-out hour in parts of Minnesota and New Mexico. Business owners there are likely hoping the game doesn’t go into overtime.

Things are tougher for bars and restaurants in Washington state, where indoor dining is mostly closed. Because of that, lots of businesses are advertising catering specials, including establishments with food you might not associate with the Super Bowl.

“Thai food, Korean food — I love the idea of food from around the world for your Super Bowl snacks,” said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association.

Still, nothing will get between some sports lovers and their traditional Super Bowl, even if it means sitting outside. At Eat, Drink & Be Merry’s group of sports bars in New York City, staff will wheel out the TVs. Think: those AV carts your grade school teacher brought in on movie day.

Jennifer Kay, managing partner, said it’s mostly regular customers who are dedicated to watching football in the cold, and that game days aren’t what they used to be.

“It’s not just like we’ve been closed for 13 weeks of football. We’re coming up on a year, you know, sporadically being open with percentages and taking weather into account and all those things,” she said. “Football is just one small piece of that puzzle.”

On Sunday, there will be spiked hot cider and electric heaters. But in the end, she said it’ll just be another day of doing business during a pandemic.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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