Josh Bowen walked around Mothership Meat Company – his barbeque restaurant in Long Island City — Saturday, checking off his to-do list.
Bread? Check. Piles of it were stacked high behind the counter. Meat? Slabs were marinating in the kitchen. And tent? On its way up to accommodate the expected Super Bowl crowd.
With just one day until the big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, Bowen, a die-hard Chiefs fan, needed everything to run smoothly, especially since he wasn’t going to be around during the game.
“Tomorrow, I’m just a civilian,” said Bowen, adding that he planned on parking himself in front of a TV until the game ended. “I’ve had eight meetings with the staff and they all know not to bother me unless someone’s dying.”
By the time the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers kick off at the 54th Super Bowl Sunday evening, players and coaches aren’t the only ones that are going to be ready for the big game. Restaurants and bars have been planning watch parties since the divisional champions were crowned two weeks ago. On Saturday, with less than 24 hours until game-time, many watering holes around town were prepared for the waves of sports fans that will come in to watch the game and celebrate.
Bowen jokingly said he expects a million people to come into John Brown Smokehouse, his Kansas City themed restaurant, with the overflow directed to Mothership Meat Company.
Take-out orders, Bowen said, would end three hours earlier than normal to accommodate the large crowd. He was planning on turning away regulars if he needed to. A bartender at the smokehouse said the restaurant ordered nearly 200 extra gallons of beer for Sunday afternoon.
Bowen, a Kansas City native, is expecting customers from not only New York City, but also Connecticut and Pennsylvania as well. He won’t charge his fellow Chiefs fans a cover though; some bars in Manhattan are charging $80 to $100 just to get in the door. Kansas City fans, clad in red gear, had already started coming into both stores Saturday afternoon.
“It’s going to be a caravan or an invasion,” Bowen said. “If you’re not a Chiefs fan, you’re probably not getting in the door. Even if you’re wearing a (Kansas City quarterback Patrick) Mahomes jersey, you might not get in.”
Across the East River, Finnerty’s, a sports bar in the East Village, expects the same capacity crowds. Their bouncers might not let any Mahomes jerseys inside on Sunday though–Finnerty’s is a 49ers and Bay Area stronghold.
A red and white SF flag hung in one corner and a gold scarf is pinned nearby. Framed photos from the Golden State Warriors’, a professional basketball team in the Bay Area, championship runs are scattered around the bar and owners hope to add one on Monday after a San Francisco win.
Autographed Steve Young and Ronnie Lott jerseys hang above the bar under two signed 49ers helmets. They’re part of the more than $5,000 in merchandise the bar will be raffling off during Sunday’s game, owner Dieter Seelig said.
Midway through the divisional championship game two weeks ago, 49ers fans began calling in about watch party details. The phone was still ringing on Saturday. Nearly everyone wanted information about Sunday’s game.
“It’s going to be an all hands on deck kind of day,” bartender Tony Serio said. “But it’s going to feel like a party. I’ve already canceled all my plans for Monday.”
Several fans came by Finnerty’s on Saturday to enjoy the calm before the storm, taking pictures in front of the bar’s 49ers logo. Two parties in red and gold gear struck up a conversation about the team’s chances. Vegas has the 49ers as slight underdogs, but fans insisted that it’s essentially a coin toss.
One man was headed for Miami early the next morning for the game.
For non-Super Bowl bound fans and workers though, Serio said, a team venue is the place to be. “Why would you want to be anywhere else?” he said. “There’s something about the energy and cheering on a team together that makes time go by faster.”