A very different Super Bowl for sports bars: “If I break even, I’m happy,” one owner says

small bars during super bowl

Just days before Super Bowl LV, sports bar owners should be gearing up for what is typically their busiest day of the year. Not this year. With the coronavirus pandemic still disrupting sporting events, owners like Travis Davidson say they’re not expecting a full house for the big game on Sunday.

“We will be open, but we don’t expect the crowds we’ve had in the past,” said Davidson, who owns Treys Bar & Grill in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “We know that people are going to stay home this year.

Sports bar owners say the public health crisis has scared away virtually all their customers over the past 10 months. The combination of cancelled or postponed games and mandates forcing restaurants to temporarily close has torpedoed their profits, bar owners told CBS MoneyWatch. Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday said Americans should watch the Super Bowl from home, delivering yet another blow to sports bars.

Still, owners expressed optimism about 2021 and have chosen to open for the big game, not out of any expectation of making mad money, but to keep alive the tradition of watching sports with friends old and new.

At Treys, tables will be six feet apart, with hand sanitizer atop each one. Masks will be required. Even with those health and safety protocols in place, owner Davidson, 31, said he knows he won’t make anywhere close to as much money as he would during a typical Super Bowl.

“We hope to make half,” Davidson said. “If we could make half of it, that would be a win.”

Small bars getting “crushed”

Amid service restrictions and the reluctance of customers to congregate indoors, chain restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings have partnered with Uber Eats to start delivering orders and keep its restaurants afloat. But smaller bars have had a harder time pivoting, one restaurant expert said.

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