BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– At least some Bills fans got to take part in a unique viewing experience.
Buffalo city leaders gave the okay to two Chippewa restaurants to close off the strip and host an outdoor viewing party in the streets.
It was a chance for some fans to feel a normal gameday vibe and more importantly, a chance for some local businesses to bring in some much-needed revenue.
For most of 2020 and the first week of the new year, Chippewa was largely empty sidewalks and without the usual busy bar scene. But for one day, the customers came back.
“This was an easy decision to come out here and support both these businesses and anyone else involved in this process. I respect everything that they’re doing, and we’re happy to be here. I’m so thankful the weather turned out for them because they deserve the hard work that they’ve put into this.”Connor Entemann, Patron
SoHo and Rec Room organized the sold-out playoff on the patios event hosting nearly 70 tables of fans who got to watch the game on 15-foot screens.
Chris Ring, owner of Rec Room said, “to be able to reopen, put our staff back to work, generate some sort of revenue can kind of make or break it for our business.”
Staff who before Saturday hadn’t been working came through.
We also heard from Jay Manno, owner of SoHo Buffalo who said, “people came out of the woodwork. Couldn’t be happier to be back. I’m so proud of my staff. I’m proud of the Rec Room and their staff. I mean, we got a good, solid 40 employees between both restaurants who came off of unemployment, if you will, for the day, to do this.”
Excited fans happy to be somewhere other than their couches feel it went well.
“I think these guys got it under control. They tell you to put your drink down, put your mask up, and really take care of the spectators.”Rich Bolduc, Patron
“Bring energy back down to Chippewa again. Obviously, there are only so many businesses that are open right now, but to kind of feel the energy of what we used to have pre-pandemic, even a little bit, makes it all worth it.”Chris Ring, Owner, Rec Room
“It just seems like we’re finally turning the corner hopefully, right? We’re allowed to do some things, and little by little, they keep loosening up the restrictions. Hopefully this week, they’re going to turn it around and restaurants will start to be open at some capacity limitation, and hopefully, by spring, we’re back to the old normal.”Jay Manno, Owner, SoHo Buffalo
This event had its expenses, so this single event is not a huge revenue generator for the restaurants, but the owners hope this starts that momentum for this to continue.