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Super Bowl and NHL spur business for Hamburg area restaurants

Mark Maulucci (left) and Jim Eiseman watch the Sabres play the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Warehouse Tuesday night. Local businesses are seeing more people come out for games.
While ordering pizza and chicken wings for parties and big games is common, one day out of the year stands out to the owners of local pizzerias because of its high volume. That day is Super Bowl Sunday, and while every place looks forward to the extra business, it does make for a crazy day, said co-owner of Blasdell Pizza Marcos Santana.

“It’s absolutely the busiest day of the year,” he said. “It’s a day we mark on the calendar. We know it’s coming. When you open your box and get your pizza and wings, there was a lot of madness that went into it.”

Super Bowl Sunday has grown into a day of parties and gatherings, and has become second only to Thanksgiving as the day Americans consume the most calories. With the big game coming up on Sunday, local pizza places are bracing for the rush of business brought in by the annual Super Bowl. Most pizzerias will have almost everyone working on the schedule. At Blasdell Pizza, Santana is bringing in his entire crew.

“Everybody is on the schedule,” he said. “No one gets off.”

Because of the high volume of orders received for the Super Bowl, most owners The Sun spoke with advised customers to order hours in advance, and in some cases, the day before.

“It’d be great to have orders a day in advance, so when I walk in Sunday morning, I know my need,” said Joel Best, the owner of the Now Pizzeria. “They can call whenever, but it does get to the point where everything is full.”

J.P. Melisz, the head chef at J.P.’s Pub in Lake View, said it’s appreciated when people call ahead to order, but not necessary.

“It’s always nice,” he said, “but we try to accommodate people. It’s never an inconvenience.”

One of the issues pizzerias face is that everyone wants their food at the same time, Santana said. Most people want their food at 5:30 p.m., so Santana’s advice is to order food for earlier than that, or later.

“Start your party earlier, or start later,” he said.

The financial boost from Super Bowl Sunday is much needed, after the NHL spent almost half of their season in a lockout, Santana said. Now that the NHL is back, business is starting to get back to normal.

“When they play on television three times a week, it gives people a reason to get together,” he said. “It definitely helps. With the way the economy has been the last few years, we need every advantage we can get.”

Joel Best agrees that the added business from people watching the games is important, especially during the months of January and February.

“I’m glad to see they finally agreed on a contract,” he said.

Area bars are also starting to see an uptick in business from the Sabres being back on television. Tim Klentos, soon-to-be owner of the Warehouse in Blasdell, said the restaurant and bar didn’t lose much business during the lockout, but now that it’s back, things have been busier.

“For the home opener, we had a great crowd for a Sunday afternoon,” he said. “Friday’s game was really, really busy. We were three deep at the bar.”

Bob Brunner, the owner of J.P. Fitzgerald’s in Hamburg, did fine during the lockout as well, but has noticed more people coming out to watch games at the bar.

“There’s a sense of excitement in our customers from the NHL coming back,” he said.

At J.P.’s Pub, the Sabres have ushered in more business, especially at the bar, Melisz said.

“For sure hockey has helped,” he said. “It’s definitely better bar nights.”

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