When the Pittsburgh Steelers show up for Super Bowl Sunday, Johnstown’s bars are packed with partiers.
When they don’t, area bar owners say they often have to get a bit creative to draw a crowd.
“Last year Pittsburgh missed the playoffs and nobody cared about the Super Bowl,” said John Gress, co-owner of The Crow’s Nest in Tire Hill.
This year, it booked a Rotary Club party.
“It’s worked out really well for us,” he said, sitting a few feet away from the bar’s banquet room, where a crowd of about 30 Conemaugh Township Rotary Club members were snacking on buffet items and watching the game.
This was the first year the club held a Super Bowl party, members said.
But hopefully not the last, said Mary Berge of Westmont, a Johnstown Rotary Club member.
“If it weren’t for this, we’d probably be home watching the game on the couch like we have been for years,” said Berge, who attended the event with her husband, Ivar.
Gress said local bars generally find themselves vying for football crowds that have other options on Super Bowl Sunday – namely house parties.
“Everybody knows somebody who’s having a Super Bowl party,” he said. “That’s what makes it tough.”
Across town, a crowd of about 20 was catching the game at Franklin Street Bar and Grill in Kernville.
The bar offered Super Bowl food specials to draw a crowd Sunday night. Bar manager Devin Layton described the turnout as “mostly NFL Sunday” regulars, but said he was more than happy with the turnout.
“If the Steelers were playing, we’d be packed right now,” he said. “But this is pretty good.”
David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavidhurst.