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Portage business owners hope for sales boost on Super Bowl Sunday

February 1, 2019

Portage business owners don’t expect the boost they might see if the Packers were playing, but they still anticipate a decent turnout for Super Bowl Sunday, expecting many fans to root for the Rams to knock off the Patriots.

Kelly Vandermark, owner of Corner Pocket, is one of them. He said he and his business partner expect downtown Portage to be busier than usual as residents come out to watch the game.

If the Rams win, he said he intends to give everyone in the bar a free shot.

“People probably don’t want to see the New England Patriots win again,” Vandermark said. “And there’s a new team in there.”

Vandermark sells about 300 chicken wings each week. He said he hopes to sell that many on Super Bowl Sunday alone. He estimates sales could jump from the usual $1,000 to around $1,700 on Sunday.

Mike Ganz owns The Ball Room in downtown Portage and hopes for a busier Super Bowl Sunday than usual because he’s trying out a new promotion.

Ganz will host a game of musical chairs during halftime. The winning prize is a La-Z Boy recliner, which was donated by Portage Furniture. Bar sales from the day will help benefit the Alzheimer’s Association, Ganz said.

The average Sunday is slow, but he’s hoping for a good turnout.

“I’m hopefully optimistic,” Ganz said. “I’d be happy with 50 people watching the game.”

Rolanda Tadman and Jason Bradley both own Unforgettables in downtown Portage. Tadman said she wishes the Packers were playing Sunday, because fewer people tend to come out to local bars for the game otherwise.

Tadman said she hopes residents will come out to bars and restaurants anyway to support locally owned businesses and have a good time.

Dom Caristi, a telecommunications professor at Ball State University in Indiana, predicts Super Bowl LIII’s ratings might be lower than last year.

In a news release Thursday, Caristi said many disgruntled fans nationwide think the teams that deserved to be in the Super Bowl were denied that opportunity. He noted that Netflix streaming, fewer scheduled commercials and the Rams’ move from St. Louis to Los Angeles also could be factors.

“Make no mistake, the Super Bowl will be the most watched television program of 2019,” Caristi said. “It just won’t have as many viewers as last year’s game.”

Pizza Hut’s Portage manager Ned Kreklow anticipates sales to pick up Sunday, so his staff is preparing 500 different pizza crusts, a similar reserve to an average Friday night.

Although Portage is a relatively small city, he expects the restaurant to be “crazy busy” with delivery orders.

For those who fancy chips and dip while vegging out on the couch, Festival Foods front-end manager Jocelynn Schwark expects her team to fulfill their grocery needs.

A combination of warmer weather, Super Bowl LIII and last-minute weekend shopping should give many local businesses a good push, Schwark said.

Many customers will come by to snag chips, dip, snacks, brats, buns, taco salads and some good old-fashioned guacamole, she said.

“Lot of booze coming through, too,” Schwark said. “All that fun stuff.”

Keith Klafke, Portage’s assistant police chief, said he hopes people go out and enjoy the game Sunday. As long as they’re safe about it.

“If you go out to enjoy the Super Bowl, please be responsible and establish a designated driver and get home safely,” Klafke said.

The police department will be fully staffed Sunday, as if it were any other day of the year. A 24-hour local cab service will be available. The number for the cab service is 608-742-4700.

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