Restaurants, retailers and police put on game face

While football fans across the country recognize Super Bowl Sunday as the biggest sports day of the year, local retailers, restaurants and law enforcement are also anticipating a busy weekend.

Whether customers plan to dine out or eat in, local food establishments have been stocking up on traditional “football food” for weeks.

“That is the pizza and the wings, especially,” John Bolina, manager at Sunrise Inn in Warren, said on Friday. “We probably have three to four times the amount of pizza and wings we would normally have.”

Although Sunday is normally busy for the East Market Street restaurant anyway, Bolina noted nothing compares to Super Bowl Sunday. “The game just ups it two to three times what we would normally see.”

Ross Thompson, manager of Buffalo Wild Wings in Niles took it a step further, comparing the day to Christmas for his chain. According to Thompson, there are more than 1 billion wings sold nationwide each year on Super Bowl Sunday.

“Just in our store here we will sell over a ton of wings. Literally a ton,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of preparation that goes into making sure that every guest has the best experience.”

For those choosing to watch the game in the restaurant, BW3s has more than 55 high definition televisions on display.

“We’ve kind of been building up to this,” Thompson said. “This is what we do every year and it’s our day to shine. We’re expecting a huge crowd.”

At Wing Warehouse in Niles, last season’s Super Bowl marked the best wing-selling day of the year. Owner Derek Rondin expects a similar turnout this year.

“Wing prices have been going up wholesale like they do every year around the Super Bowl,” Rondin said, due to the high demand for the chicken across the country. “We’ve been trying to prepare for that as best we can and still provide a nice special for either dine-in or carry-out.”

Part of Rondin’s annual Super Bowl routine includes replacing the bulb in the 21-foot television at Wing Warehouse. “We’ve got the picture going good and everything else is prepared, ready to go,” he said.

Meanwhile, local retailers have noticed a sales boom on electronics such as televisions and surround sound units in the days leading up to Sunday.

“The game makes for a good excuse to buy a new toy,” Gary Molish, general manager at Best Buy in Niles said. “Obviously, any time there is promotional stuff going on with football season, it’s always exciting to get a new TV,” Molish said. “If you are entertaining or something like that, having the newest, best television definitely helps.

“It makes sense, especially with our bigger sizes like the 60- and 70-inchers,” he said.

According to experts, U.S. retailers sell on average 61 percent more TVs the week before the Super Bowl compared to the previous week. If Walmart in Bazetta is any indicator, that trend will continue in 2013. The electronics department in the store has seen heavy traffic the last several days, according to the sales staff.

“We are definitely seeing a lot more customers than what we’re used to,” sales associate Cheyenne Booher said. “There are a lot bigger crowds, mainly going for like TVs or surround sound systems and stuff like that.”

Booher explained the store’s overall stock of large televisions increased in preparation for this weekend.

“It wasn’t too much more, but we did notice more TVs coming and we have more up in the steel (bins). That goes for mainly the bigger TVs,” Booher said.

Not all additional traffic for Sunday will be of positive kind. Local law enforcement agencies are ramping up hours and patrols this weekend, mainly in an effort to prevent party-goers from operating vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As a result, Ohio State Highway Patrol posts in Trumbull County will have more troopers on the streets.

“There is federal overtime that we’re working all weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Sgt. William Bancroft said. “We are utilizing 50 hours of overtime specifically for enforcement and that’s just for our posts in Trumbull County.”

To be sure, a police presence will be visible today and Sunday, but Bancroft said getting the word out can be the best strategy for his department.

“Obviously, the ingredients are there to make it a busy day, but we try to get the message out to people and, for the most part, people seem to get it,” Bancroft said. “There is always the chance when you have so many people drinking, problems could come up.”

For those planning on traveling this weekend, Bancroft said the best way to avoid trouble includes wearing a safety belt, give yourself plenty of time and watch the weather forecast before heading out.

“Most importantly, drive defensively,” he said. “You never know if the person in the lane next to you has been drinking or not, so you want to drive as cautiously as possible.”

anewman@tribtoday.com