On the Boulevard owner Bob Gilkerson has seen an uptick in business thanks to Eagles fans.
On the Boulevard owner Bob Gilkerson has seen an uptick in business thanks to Eagles fans.

Super Bowl Sunday is the unofficial winter holiday, a welcome bonanza for bars, restaurants and liquor stores that helps them through the slow business days just after the new year. It’s the official end of football season, and a designated day of celebration for many people, even those who don’t normally watch football.

For decades, the big game has spawned parties as people gather in their homes with friends, or at local watering holes. It makes for a good payday for many businesses like the Fox & Hound, a chain with 56 locations in the United States and two in Colorado, including one just off Powers Boulevard.

It doesn’t hurt that Fox & Hound is home to the Pikes Peak Pats Fan Club, a group that will help fill the restaurant to watch their New England Patriots chase a sixth Super Bowl trophy.

“Economically, we want the Patriots in the Super Bowl,” said Fox & Hound Event Coordinator and Marketing Ambassador Jessica Risley, who has worked at the location for eight years.

“We’ll have more than 200 Patriots fans on Sunday; we hold about 400. We’ll have Patriots fans driving down from Denver to experience the game with us. I’ve talked to several people who requested Monday off from work the day after the game.”

Although not authorized to discuss revenue, Risley said it’s a “huge” difference to have the Pats in the game and more than doubles the revenue of a normal Sunday.

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“The vibe is completely different on Super Bowl Sunday,” she said. “It’s exciting. People arrive at 11 a.m. and order food and by the time they leave at 8 [p.m.] they’ll have had rounds of drinks, rounds of shots and more food.”

It’ll be one of the top five revenue days of the year for Fox & Hound, she said, ranking with Christmas holiday parties.

“We’ll be staffed to the max — all hands on deck,” Risley said. “We’re ordering more tables and chairs. We’ll even have an ice sculpture with Super Bowl LII and both team logos on it.”

Day to celebrate

American adults will spend an average of $81.17 for Super Bowl festivities, according to an annual survey released last week by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That’s up 8.5 percent from last year, for a total expenditure of $15.3 billion for the big game.

An estimated 188.5 million will watch the game — whether that’s at home, at a party or their favorite bar or restaurant. Of those surveyed, 18 percent will host a Super Bowl party, 28 percent plan to attend one and 5 percent will go to a bar or restaurant. The survey noted that 82 percent say they will purchase food and beverages, while 8 percent will buy a new TV before the game.

“It’s like a Fourth of July, Labor Day or Memorial Day,” said Jack Backman, who has been co-owner and operator of Cheers Liquor Mart on North Circle Drive for 22 years. “We’ll be 50 to 60 percent busier than a normal week, and it’ll start mid-week or so as people plan and shop early. We’ll be busy on Sunday also, right up to [the 4:30 p.m.] kickoff.”

When the Broncos reach the Super Bowl, as they did in 2014 and 2016, it’s even better, Backman said.

“That’s a whole different story,” he said. “It’s a lot bigger, like an extra Christmas weekend. We’ll double sales if the Broncos are in [the Super Bowl], at least 100 percent. Them not being in the playoffs at all this year was a huge loss for us.”

Backman will have 15 employees Sunday, about twice the normal number, at the 36,000-square-foot store, but many will get to leave by kickoff.

“We’re the largest [liquor store] in town, for square feet and sales,” he said. “But this time of year is slow for everybody, and this is a holiday that gets us through the winter.”

What do people buy most?

“It’s a beer game,” Backman said. “It’s football, so it’s mostly a beer game.”

Eagles nest

Bob and Nancy Gilkerson have owned On the Boulevard since June 2006 and, like most local pubs, attract a good crowd for Broncos games. But their business got a boost when a local flock of Philadelphia Eagles fans showed up.

“They’ve adopted us, and they plan on filling up the place Sunday,” Bob Gilkerson said. “Usually we get 15 to 25 [Eagles fans] but we’re expecting [up to] 70. It’s going to be a super good day.”

Gilkerson said Eagles fans started coming in a couple of seasons ago, and now they’ll drive down from Denver or up from Pueblo to watch the game. He’s not a huge football fan but does pay for the bar on North Murray Boulevard to get every NFL game via satellite.

“I follow the Broncos,” he said, “but we always back the Eagles. I guess we’ll get about a 30-percent increase in business that day. We don’t get a rowdy crowd; it’s a lot of families, a lot of kids.”

Mike Davis, owner of Back East Bar and Grill, said much of his Super Bowl Sunday business will be from takeout orders for pizza and wings.

“A lot of people do house parties, so we have an extra person to answer the phone and one to run the register,” Davis said. “We encourage people to order ahead of time. Last year we sold about 350 pounds of wings — that’s about 2,400 wings, twice a normal Sunday.”

Back East opened in Briargate in 2006, in Monument in 2014 and in Denver in 2015. Davis seats a little more than 100 each at Monument and Briargate, which is a Buffalo Bills bar, appropriate since he hails from upstate New York.

“We support the Broncos too, but it was rockin’ that day the Bills were in the playoffs this year,” Davis said. “Business was up 30 to 40 percent.”

Skiers quit early

Ski resorts may see a slight drop in business due to the game, as day-trip skiers who typically drive west from the Front Range might choose to stay home that day.

“The Super Bowl seems to slightly impact our business each year,” Dan Bender, marketing director at Monarch Mountain, said in an email.

He said Sundays are generally slower than Saturdays in January and February, but that Super Bowl Sunday “sees a larger drop.”

Other ski areas are more destination resorts and see less impact.

“The big game does not tend to [affect] much business at Crested Butte Mountain Resort,” communications director Zach Pickett said in an email.

The consensus is that the Super Bowl hurts ski resort restaurants and bars more than it does lift ticket sales.

“We see pretty good numbers in the morning and it tapers off in the afternoon,” said Jeff Hanle, director of public relations for Aspen and Snowmass.

Pickett said that Crested Butte also sees “more skier visits in the morning” before “skiers typically head home to start their game preparations a bit earlier.”

Several ski resort officials said they are not allowed to release visitor numbers or revenue totals, but all agreed that the slopes are much busier during the morning of Super Bowl Sunday than later in the day.

“We do see busy days on Super Bowl Sunday at resorts close to the Front Range,” said Colorado Ski Country Public Affairs Director Chris Linsmayer. “People will ski until 1 or 2 [p.m.] and still have time to get home to watch the game. You see a lot of people wearing their favorite team’s jersey on Super Bowl Sunday.”

Crested Butte hosts a “Big Game Party” at its base restaurant, Butte 66, and offers lift tickets the day after the game at a price that equals the total points scored in the Super Bowl.