Parties cater to cautious consumers

MANATEE — The Super Bowl returns to Tampa under much different circumstances this year.

The economy has postponed several Super Bowl festivities that traditionally go along with the event.

Big-name Super Bowl parties by Playboy and Sports Illustrated were canceled as was a celebrity golf tournament by Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As for bars and restaurants, where the Super Bowl is the biggest business day of the year, many have retooled their parties and specials to accommodate cautious consumers on Sunday.

“We’re throwing out a ton of good specials to help the fans out and give them cheap beer and cheap food,” said Oliver Goldthwaite, supervisor and bartender at Tequila Beach Sports Grille in Bradenton.

The sports bar and restaurant at 7423 Manatee Ave. W. is hosting a pre-game tailgate party in the parking lot, eliminating cover charges and is offering $25 all-you-can-drink draft beer.

So far, the deals seem to be appealing to NFL fans on a budget.

“We have over 100 reservations, we’re going to be very, very full,” Goldthwaite said.

Fan-Atics, at 4669 Cortez Road, will also hold a tailgating party in its parking lot.

The sports bar is charging a cover, but has reduced the prices to $5 in advance, $10 at the door, from the $15 and $25 Fan-Atics charged when the Pittsburgh Steelers last reached the Super Bowl in 2005.

Angela Voss, owner of Fan-Atics, said considering the economy and the fact that her establishment has long been a hangout spot for Pittsburgh fans she lowered the cover charge.

“I think it will help out quite a bit,” Voss said. “I think other business should be doing well if they bring their prices down.”

In addition, Voss said she believes establishments in Manatee County will fare better than some closer to Raymond James Stadium.

There, Voss said you have to consider fans will have to fight traffic, pay to park and could be paying stadium-like prices for beer and food.

“With our economy the way it is who’s going to pay $5 for a hot dog and $8 for a beer? Give me a break,” Voss said.

Fan-Atics’ specials will include $1 drafts, $5 pitchers and 50-cent wings.

“It’s not going to be outrageous (prices) here,” Voss said.

Mattison’s will host its traditional Super Bowl parties at its three restaurants in Bradenton in Sarasota.

However marketing director Jennifer Ahearn-Koch said she has noticed more fans are requesting Mattison’s catering services this year that include party platters of wings, mini hot dogs and mini hamburgers.

“People are doing a lot of house parties,” Ahearn-Koch said. “I think that’s a change from years past, instead of having parties at restaurants they’re choosing to have them in their home.”

And some local establishments that aren’t typically geared toward sports are hosting a Super Bowl party in hopes of gaining some business.

Ace at 4343 Palma Sola Blvd. is having a pre-game party with a live band and will have Super Bowl giveaways to attract consumers to the bar that usually is geared toward more live entertainment than sporting events.

“We usually have Sunday bands at night but we’re moving the music from 2 to 6 (p.m.) so it doesn’t interrupt the game,” said manager Liz Rampone. “We’re doing more this year with the Super Bowl in hopes of a good turnout.”

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