Last February, the Muny Inn erupted with cheers when Jet Chip Wasp turned the tide of Super Bowl LIV.
A similar scene would play out in the neighborhood bar this Sunday if Patrick Mahomes can do his magic at Super Bowl LV.
Between? There wasn’t as much to cheer about as bars and restaurants struggled to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We suffered for a couple of months,” said Denise Lewis, the owner.
As in the previous year, restaurants and drinking places expect sales to grow from Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This time around, the Super Bowl could be seen more as a lifeline for companies that have been forced to close their doors, some for almost two months.
“All businesses have taken a hit,” said Ridge Morgan, owner of Norty’s. “I hope that catapults us and gives us the go-ahead for the year.”
A lot happened between the last two Super Bowls. Ridge recalls a good audience for last year’s game, which was played at a time when the coronavirus was still a background story. Three months later, bars in St. Joseph were among the last non-essential stores to reopen under a citywide housing order issued in late March.
“We did it,” said Morgan. “That kind of razor.”
Bars like Norty’s and Muny Inn, as well as restaurants that are also planning a busy business Sunday, can count themselves as survivors. The National Restaurant Association estimates 17% of restaurants are closed, many of them family-owned.
“Restaurants are balanced and just sort of getting by,” said Bill Teel, executive director of the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association. “Those who adapt and do more on the roadside do better.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues guidelines for bar and restaurant operations, including wearing masks, spacing tables 6 feet apart, and placing barriers on cash registers. More specific restrictions lie with state and local authorities.
A statewide curfew at 10 p.m. was recently lifted in New Jersey. In Kansas City, Mayor Quinton Lucas eased the 10 p.m. bar and restaurant curfew last month.
In St. Joseph’s, the recent emergency decree was aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in bars and restaurants without resorting to store closures or limiting capacity and hours of operation. The city requires 6 feet of social distance and face covering for anyone outside of the same household, except for food and drink. There is no medical exemption for wearing a mask in a bar or restaurant.
Lewis of the Muny Inn said she is expecting a bigger crowd for this year’s Super Bowl, so she is focusing on meeting the health requirements while creating a hangout for customers who are hungry for community.
“It’s an opportunity to get together with your family and friends,” she said. “That is important to many people.”
Some are hoping this year’s Super Bowl will be a turnaround, sort of a business equivalent of Mahomes joining Tyreek Hill on the 3rd and 15th. Pizza Shoppe, a restaurant on the Belt Highway, won’t be open on Sunday nights, but plans to have pizza deliveries until 5 p.m. for private watch parties.
After a difficult time in 2020, the initial interest is a sign of encouragement for Pizza Shoppe.
“The Super Bowl actually comes at a really great time,” said Paige Mazur, general manager of Pizza Shoppe. “We have already started to resume our business. COVID has definitely been a weird year for everyone. “