Going Boom, Bust With Weekend Storm

The Super Bowl

Foul Weather Likely To Hurt Some Businesses

Others Are Able To Call An Audible

Looming Storm

February 05, 2010|By Scott Calvert | Scott Calvert,scott.calvert@baltsun.com

No matter how much snow piles up this weekend, Steve Ring says he's having his party Sunday night.

His is no ordinary shindig, either. He'll have an oyster shucker and a caterer to dish out dumplings from a dim sum station.

It's the Super Bowl, after all, and for the past decade, Ring has gone all out at his Stevenson home in honor of the National Football League championship. The owner of the Blue Point 2Go seafood business isn't about to let a potential storm mess up the fun for himself and his three dozen guests.

"I'm not worried about it at all," he said Thursday afternoon, predicting that most roads would be cleared by Sunday afternoon even if 2 feet of snow were to fall. "If some people don't make it, some don't make it. What am I going to do? Party goes on."

Ring's party might go on, but that doesn't mean other hosts will be so determined. As the snowfall predictions have risen, so have stress levels at some businesses that have come to count on a nice Super Bowl bounce.

"I'm going to be hampered very badly," said Betty Kulchar, owner of Vizzini's Pizza Delivery in Dundalk. "Usually we do pretty good on Super Bowl day," she said, as in a doubling of pizza sales.

"With the economy being bad and the weather we've already had, I was really looking forward to it," she said. "We have a lot of bills to pay."

Now she worries that even if the snow stops falling at midday Saturday, the entire weekend could be a loss. By kickoff Sunday evening, her driver still might find it too treacherous to make deliveries.

"Main roads might be open," she said, "but when you go delivering, you go on side streets and all. And the cars can't get through."

For some, the forecast brought a Super Bowl bump earlier than usual.

At Wells Discount Liquors on York Road, sales the day before the game are usually 25 percent higher than most Saturdays, managing partner Michael Hyatt said.

Because of the wintry forecast, the rush started Thursday. "Steady since the minute we opened," he said, not complaining a bit.

Wells, like most liquor stores, is closed Sundays, and Hyatt said the snow could force a late opening on Saturday. His advice: Anyone planning to buy beer or wine for the game should do so Friday.

"Do it," he said, "or drink tap water during the Super Bowl."

At Eddie's of Roland Park, people stocked up on Super Bowl chips and dip, chili fixings and wings "in anticipation of two days of mayhem," said the supermarket's general manager, Steve Kuehn.

While the brisk sales cheered Kuehn, he was not sure about the fate of 30 platter orders his Charles Street store has received for Super Bowl parties. He'd prefer that customers pick up meat trays today.

But some orders - the football-shaped sub, for example - would not keep well all weekend, he said. Think soggy bread. And hardly anyone has a fridge big enough for the 5-foot sandwich.

Those subs will have to be made Sunday morning. But that assumes customers still plan to hold their parties. All Kuehn could say with any confidence was that enough employees would make it to work. Whether they will be able to deliver any platters is another matter.

"We're never going to put our drivers in jeopardy," he said. "Not even for the Super Bowl."

For Biddle Street Catering, Super Bowl Sunday had been shaping up as a decent day, although co-owner Larry Levy says the recession has spurred a growing shift to potluck Super Bowl parties and gatherings catered by Sam's Club.

Biddle Street had been hired to cater three game parties this year. Then came the snowy forecast. One was canceled, and another, a combination Super Bowl and birthday celebration, was postponed, Levy said.

Thank goodness for Steve Ring and his festive fortitude.

"This is a really full-blown party," said Levy, who has a pair of four-wheel-drive vehicles that can reach Ring's house if the roads are still a problem.

In addition to staffing the dim sum station, Levy's workers will serve carved pastrami on rye flatbread, sirloin steak sandwiches, franks in blankets, spinach-and-feta puffs and hot bread pudding.

Levy says he lost $30,000 worth of business when Baltimore got walloped with 21 inches of snow just before Christmas. And with a number of Saturday events canceled, this weekend's snow could cost him another $10,000, despite Ring's desire to party on.

Levy sighed. "These are not times to lose this kind of money," he said.

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