Area businesses sacked on Super Bowl Sunday

Restaurants and bars see few customers willing to brave snow, ice

January 31, 2000|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Bohagers' staff planned to entertain a crowd watching the Super Bowl yesterday with a 10-foot television screen and an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Instead, the restaurant and nightclub on South Eden Street in Fells Point never opened.

"We were all set for tonight," Bohagers' general manager Michael Miguel said yesterday, after deciding to remain closed. "Unfortunately, I think the weather got the better of us. It's snowing pretty good."

The snowstorm hit on a particularly bad day for Maryland businesses, especially restaurants, bars and takeout joints, that expected a windfall from the year's biggest football game. Some, like Bohagers, did not open. Others closed early. Others said they were doing pretty well, all things considered. But the weather put a damper on what is normally a big day for restaurants.

Many of those who wanted to watch the Superbowl in Baltimore encountered more trouble when TCI cable television service went out about 8: 35 p.m. It did not come back for good until 9: 45 p.m. A TCI spokesman could offer no explanation for the ill-timed outage, which he said affected "three or four ZIP codes."

Kelli Hopkins, an employee at Mothers Federal Hill Grille, in the 1100 block of S. Charles St., said the Super Bowl went black there at 9 p.m. About 200 customers at the bar and in a second-floor dining room were "not happy at all."

She said many patrons left. The game came back on a local TV channel, but reception was fuzzy.

Carole DiMartino, co-owner of Beefalo Bob's Restaurant and Catering in Pasadena, decided to close a half-hour early, at 5: 30 p.m. Overall, it was a disappointing day. Orders slowed as the weather worsened. One customer failed to pick up the meal he had requested by telephone.

"It could have been a lot better," DiMartino said. "The weather did affect us."

Dennis Kritzmacher, owner of Wings to Go in Arbutus, thinks the threat of bad weather hurt more than the weather itself. Last year, his company got 53 Super Bowl orders the night before the game. On Saturday night, Wings to Go took just 20 orders.

He blames the meteorologists and the media.

"This hype is just insane," Kritzmacher said. He was cheered when business yesterday afternoon began to pick up.

"We live for this day all year long," he said. "We staff up, we gear up, we buy more food."

Some businesses found themselves doing pretty well.

"So far, so good," said Mike Cornell, a manager at Domino's Pizza in Eldersburg. "We're going to stay open as long as we can."

Staff at the ESPN Zone Baltimore at the Inner Harbor, who brought in cheerleaders and Orioles players such as pitcher Sidney Ponson for their event, were also counting their blessings. An hour and a half before kickoff, there were plenty of empty seats, but customers were beginning to arrive "weather and all," said Bonnie Downing, the marketing manager.

"I'm a little surprised, but I think it's great," she said.

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