Super Food: Local businesses ready for big game


Everybody loves something about the Super Bowl.

Whether it’s the teams, the sport, the commercials, the star-studded halftime show or the copious amounts of food that is consumed throughout the unofficial holiday — the Big Game is a spectacle of celebration and togetherness.

But before you chow down on that championship spread with friends and family, local restaurants and grocery stores have to kick operations into overdrive to meet the demand.

“We really do get slammed,” said Stephanie Luna, a floating manager at the Jasper Domino’s on South U.S. 231. “We get a lot more business.”

Luna, who rotates between various Domino’s locations owned by her aunt and uncle, said that at some stores, the company can rake in $1,000 in an hour on Super Bowl Sunday. Preorders start early in the morning, and all employees are required to work on the day.

“We have to make sure the orders, if they’re delivery, we have to try to make them on time,” Luna said. “No matter what. No excuses.”

Across the street, Papa John’s Pizza will also have all hands on deck. Area Supervisor Lance Lehman said the Super Bowl is “one of our busiest Sundays of the year.” But there are variables that affect just how crazy it gets.

“It really depends on the teams playing,” he said. “If the [Indianapolis] Colts are in there, then it’s gonna be a record-type day. But with the last couple years, it’s been a strong Sunday, but it’s been more like a Friday night. Nothing more than that.”

Other nearby teams, like the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams — who relocated to Los Angeles in 2016 — would also generate huge days for the company if they made it to the big game, Lehman explained. When Peyton Manning led the Denver Broncos to the 2016 Super Bowl title, many stores throughout the company experienced record-setting sales days.

Still, Papa John’s employees know there won’t be time for slacking before the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers kick off on Sunday.

“Because it’s so busy and you expect it, most of the employees are having fun with it,” Lehman said. “But if the ovens can’t keep up, you have more pizzas ordered than can go through the ovens in an hour, then it becomes a little more hectic, I guess. But what we try to do is be honest with the customers on how long it’ll take to either be delivered, or how long it would take to pick it up. And try to be as close to accurate as we possibly can, so they get a hot product, which is our biggest concern.”

His advice for party planners reading this story? Order early. Both Domino’s and Papa John’s have preordering options that allow customers to schedule deliveries and pickups.

The scene will be a little different at the Gaslight Restaurant in Huntingburg. John Songer, the business’ owner, admits that his establishment isn’t “swamped like probably a lot of other pizza shops are.”

Carryout orders are still placed, but the Gaslight isn’t extremely busy before kickoff. The local spot does, however, offer an annual in-house pizza buffet — that includes other party staples — and is billed as the ultimate tailgate.

“We do get quite a few people to come in for that,” Songer said. “Anywhere from 25 to 50 people sometimes come in to watch the game, and then sit here and eat and drink.”

A local grocery store will be popping pre-Bowl, too. Matt Ledgerwood, store manager at the Hometown IGA in Jasper, explained that the location has extra stock of goods like snacks, appetizers, soda, and chips and dip.

“It’s about like a New Year’s Eve,” Ledgerwood said of the busyness that the football spectacle generates.

Ledgerwood expects Friday and Saturday to be big days, and he thinks Sunday morning will be busy, too. He anticipates the rush will die down a few hours before the game begins.

Super Bowl LIV kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

As the Chiefs and 49ers duke it out, you can bet that the bellies of many in Dubois County will be very, very full.

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