Erik Forsberg, owner of Erik The Red, a bar and restaurant next to U.S. Bank Stadium, is preparing for a busy Super Bowl week. “Business is going to be great,” he said. Photo by Nate Gotlieb

Hungry for the big game

Updated: January 19, 2018 – 4:18 pm

Restaurants and bars eagerly await Super Bowl crowds

The Super Bowl will mean an “enhanced” week for the pizza business, according to Marty Neumann, who owns the Red’s Savoy Pizza franchise in Northeast.

But otherwise Neumann said he’s not sure what impact the game will have on Northeast.

“For a lot of people, that river is kind of a wall,” said Neumann, who also owns Keegan’s Irish Pub next door to Red Savoy. He said he expects a lot of out-of-town visitors to attend private events, but he added “I’d be the happiest person in the world if proven wrong.”

Business owners across the city are preparing for a potential crush of customers during the 10-day Super Bowl festival, which starts Jan. 26. Many downtown Minneapolis businesses are expecting busy days and nights leading up to the game on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Some business owners outside of downtown are working on ways to draw in customers.

“Business is going to be great,” said Erik Forsberg, who owns Erik The Red, a bar and restaurant adjacent to the stadium. “We’re going to have some really fun days.”

Forsberg said he’s almost more excited for the upcoming NFL playoffs than the Super Bowl itself, noting that “Vikings fever is running at a high pitch right now.” He said he’s excited for the team to play an afternoon game on Jan. 14, its first of potentially two playoff home games before the Super Bowl.

Those games could be as much a boon for his business as the Super Bowl itself, he said.

Forsberg plans on operating Erik The Red as usual in the days leading up to the game, despite drivers having limited access. But the restaurant will be enclosed within the secure stadium perimeter on game day, meaning that only ticketed fans will be allowed in.

“It’s probably going to be the easiest security day I’ve ever had,” he said.

Shaq, Jamie Foxx

Allie Gilbert, marketing director for Empire Entertainment, said her company’s initial reaction was “overwhelming excitement” when it was announced that Minneapolis would host the Super Bowl.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most business owners,” said Gilbert, whose company runs the Lumber Exchange Event Center in downtown Minneapolis, among other bars and entertainment venues.

Empire partnered with the international nightlife company Tao Group on a series of concerts for the weekend. Artists for the three nights of concerts include actor and singer Jamie Foxx and Hall of Fame basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, who goes by the stage name DJ Diesel, among others.

General admission tickets run $249–$299, and Gilbert said the company is expecting to have about 3,500 people a night.

Shay Goetzman, general manager of Bar La Grassa, said the restaurant will be open for lunch from Jan. 22 to game day. She said they’re planning a normal menu for game week, adding that she feels like the restaurant will get a lot of local customers.

Kip Clayton, vice president of marketing with Parasole Restaurant Holdings, said he expects his firm’s restaurants to see more reservations and private bookings in the next couple weeks.

Parasole owns six restaurants under six different names across the Twin Cities, including Salut, Pittsburgh Blue, Chino Latino and Manny’s Steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis. Manny’s may be carrying some higher-end spirits and wines during the week, Clayton said, but otherwise will be operating as usual.

“We just hope to do what we normally do and do it well,” he said.

Shane Higgins, general manager of Brit’s Pub on Nicollet Mall, said his restaurant isn’t planning any special Super Bowl events. He noted the restaurant’s proximity to the Super Bowl festival and Super Bowl Experience theme park at the Convention Center.

Brit’s will have some of its summer staff come back to work the week, Higgins said. It’s also planning on applying to stay open until 4 a.m. during the Super Bowl weekend.

Bar close is typically 2 a.m., but state law allows cities to issue special permits for a 4 a.m. bar close Feb. 2–5. Minneapolis is granting the permit to businesses within the “downtown taxing area,” which includes most of downtown, Loring Park, Nicollet Island, St. Anthony Main and the Warehouse District.

Eighteen businesses had applied for the special liquor license as of Jan. 8, according to the city. Businesses have until Jan. 19 to submit an application.

Beyond downtown

Businesses outside of downtown are also preparing for the potential uptick in traffic.

Caleb Garn, co-owner of Five Watt Coffee in Kingfield, said his business has historically gotten a lot of customers who visit because of Five Watt’s high Yelp rating. He said he’s expecting to be busier during the Super Bowl festival.

Tom Dupont, president of the Northeast Business Association, said the association plans to run an ad in City Pages inviting people to come to Northeast. Individual businesses will be offering specials, he said, and the association plans to promote those specials through its website,

The 50th & France Business & Professional Association is also asking member stores if it can promote any specials, said Executive Director Rachel Thelemann. She added that the association is holding live ice sculpture demos featuring local sculptor Rob Graham 1 p.m.–4 p.m. Jan. 27.

Uptown businesses are excited about the increased traffic, said Maude Lovelle, executive director of the Uptown Business Association. She noted a fashion show set for Feb. 1 at Stella’s Fish Café.

Surly Brewing Company is planning a “52 tap takeover” Jan. 28 at HopCat on Nicollet Mall. The brewery will also have rare beer offerings and special menu items throughout the Super Bowl week at its beer hall, said Andrea Graham, Surly’s senior events and brand experience manager. Among other events, there will be a big party at the brewery on Jan. 31 in partnership with The Great Northern, she said.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to come check us out,” Graham said. “We are ready for the masses.”

Unique catering offerings
Catering businesses and events centers are also prepping for busy Super Bowl weeks.

Maari Cedar James, chief experience officer for Chowgirls Killer Catering based in Northeast, said the firm is booked for Super Bowl week.

Chowgirls has been working to build menus that cross classic Minnesota foods with traditional football foods, she said. Other unique offerings include an oyster bar, a Nordic platter that includes Lake Superior whitefish, hand-crafted cocktails and a nosh platter featuring items from local vendors.

Sarah McKee, general manager at Aria Event Center in the North Loop, said the center’s contracts for the weekend were all wrapped up this summer. The center is hosting a Host Committee business gala for one night and NBC’s Super Bowl party for several nights.

“It’s just a level of production that we don’t get to experience very often,” McKee said.