Restaurants cautiously optimistic about business during Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day


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Restaurants cautiously optimistic about business during Super Bowl and Valentine's Day

Restaurants cautiously optimistic about business during Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day

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Restaurants are cautiously optimistic about business on Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day weekend, usually busy days in the industry.

“All of our reservations have been very strong,” said Nancy Caswell, director of the advocacy group Massachusetts Restaurant United. “People are definitely celebrating over the weekend.”

The coronavirus surge in Massachusetts appeared to be easing this weekend, spurred by a variant of the omicron. On Friday, the state reported about 2,500 new confirmed cases of COVID, a seven-day average of 1,600. A month ago, the state was reporting about 19,500 cases a day. The positivity rate in Massachusetts has dropped from 21% a month ago to just under 4% now.

Winter is always slow for restaurants, but Caswell said mid-December to mid-January feels like March 2020 all over again. She said the restaurant was doing well last summer and fall, and bookings are slowly picking up. Caswell is cautiously optimistic that the situation will continue into the spring.

Kari Kuelzer, general manager of Grendel’s Den in Harvard Square, agrees.

“I just think business will pick up in the next few months,” she said. “I think we’re going to see our busiest months ever in the spring. I think people are getting ready to socialize.”

Business is always down in December and January as college students stay home for the winter break, but this year, the drop in business is palpable, Kuelzer said. She said she expected Grendel’s patio to be busy on Saturday and Valentine’s Day on Monday because of the good weather.

But this weekend may not be big business for all restaurants, said Bob Lutz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. He said he was concerned that many people would not want to go out on Monday night after staying up late on Sunday to watch the game. Plus, he said for restaurants that typically make a lot of money at large gatherings, Valentine’s Day can affect those plans.

“You only have so many tables,” Luz said. “Usually a table of four, six, eight, ten, it’s for two, right? Because my wife and I want to be alone on Valentine’s Day, we don’t go out in groups. So you table There’s a shortage…a lot of restaurants have turned it into a weekend event.”

Restaurants have learned how to be successful with meal kits and delivery, and are using those tools to boost their revenue ahead of Sunday’s game, Caswell said at the Massachusetts Restaurant Syndicate.

“I think a lot of restaurants are very creative and now have the ability to stay connected to customers or guests by maintaining similarly themed-style dinners or interactive cooking,” Caswell said.

Caswell said many restaurants were closed Monday, especially with staffing shortages. But, “for those of us who are able to reconfigure our schedules or just be open, I know that Valentine’s Day books also look strong.” After a busy weekend, the challenge for some of them will be for Valentine’s Day Monday. Stock up on food.

After reopening in the summer of 2021, Somerville’s Parlor Sports will have its first Super Bowl in two years.

Garvey Salomon, bartender and manager at Parlor, said business had been virtually stagnant for the past six weeks, but started to slowly pick up around Martin Luther King Day. For this weekend, he hopes they will continue to see gains.

“I’m optimistic, I think it’s going to be busy,” Solomon said. “It’s the Super Bowl. There are a lot of people who just come to watch the game without any dogs. They just want to see this halftime show or they want to see an ad. Usually a group of people.”

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