BY BRYNA ZUMER, firstname.lastname@example.org
4:57 PM EST, January 29, 2013
With the Big Game just around the corner, residents planning to watch the Super Bowl from a bar in Harford County might consider getting there early.
Pubs around the area are expecting plenty of purple-clad Ravens fans to fill the seats come Sunday, when the Baltimore team plays the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans.
After a full house last time, MaGerk's in Bel Air is expecting another busy weekend for the big game.
Sunday will feature a special rotating buffet, Jennifer Topper said, as well as a few added drink specials.
"We will have raffles going on during the game," she said. "We will probably have some giveaways for different Ravens things."
Although the AFC Championship filled plenty of seats at MaGerk's, "we are definitely expecting bigger parties, bigger groups," she said.
Sunday's event is likely to bring out even bigger crowds, she suspected.
"The phone calls and things that we have gotten still make it seem like we are going to be just as packed," Topper said.
For the Super Bowl, "people tend to drag more people out with them."
She also expects the crowd to be excited but reasonable if the Ravens were to win.
"We are ready. We are geared for the win," Topper said.
At the Dark Horse Saloon in Bel Air, district manager Patrick Leonard said the restaurant is taking reservations this time.
"We are almost booked up," he said, noting the Dark Horse has gotten about 150 reservations, with about 80 spots left.
For $25 a person, the bar will offer a "huge," extra-special buffet of seafood, like steamed mussels, ribs and barbecue items.
There will also be a separate, pre-Super Bowl buffet, he said.
"We think it's going to be different this year because of the Ravens," Leonard said about the Super Bowl. "Normally it's the slowest day of the year."
After hosting two Ravens players recently, the Dark Horse is expecting the possibility of one final Ravens-related treat.
The team promised the pub would get a player every Thursday night if the Ravens win the Super Bowl, Leonard said.
Half Pints Sports Pub & Grill in Bel Air is also having "a bit of a Mardi Gras scene," owner Nick Molyneux said, with necklaces being given away.
The bar will feature a heated tent for Sunday's event and drink specials, including a lot of Budweiser, the sponsor of the NFL.
Since the Ravens began winning, Half Pints started hosting a Ray Lewis dance contest at halftime.
"They get up on the stage and do the dance," Molyneux said, explaining the winner gets a free round of drinks.
If recent turnout is any indication, he is expecting plenty of excited Ravens fans to fill the bar.
For the last two games, "we were jam-packed full about two hours before the game," he said.
Molyneux thought people might be having more Super Bowl parties at home, but Half Pints is planning for the same turnout.
He noted some people who were there for the recent championships are superstitious about being in the same spot for the Super Bowl.
"It's hard to tell," he said about turnout. "A lot of the folks who were here for the last two games said they were going to come back."
Molyneux said he has already gotten more carryout orders than usual.
He was also not especially worried about the crowd getting out of hand if the Ravens do win the ultimate prize.
"We had a very jovial crowd [before]," he said.
Some establishments are even taking advantage of the unique New Orleans setting.
The Greene Turtle in Aberdeen is having a pre-game Mardi Gras, with DJ Q playing music from 2 to 5 p.m., drink specials, giveaways and prizes.
General manager Jon Gettle said he expects the place to be packed.
"We are expecting a sold-out house again, like we had for the last two games," he said. "We ran out of seats real early the last two games."
It's all first-come, first serve, so his advice is: "Get there early."
The Greene Turtle is offering a to-go special with 100 wings for $64.95, and Gettle said he has already received a "bunch of orders" for that.
The bar will also offer a free half-time buffet.
Unlike The Greene Turtle, Coakley's in Havre de Grace is jokingly having PSLs ("personal seat licenses") for Sunday's event.
Sixty percent of those tables and chairs are already reserved, bartender Dan Tracey said, so he definitely expects a large crowd for the Super Bowl.
The pub is also trying to get the entire city in the spirit of things.
Come Wednesday or Thursday night, Coakley's representatives will be putting up purple ribbons all over the place.
"We are painting Havre de Grace purple," Tracey explained. "My goal is to get the entire downtown."
Tracey said he has been coordinating with businesses to encourage them to have some purple on their property as well.
Coakley's will be featuring a "big buffet at half-time" and Tracey said he is prepared for folks to go wild if the Ravens do win.
Nevertheless, he predicted, it won't be too wild.
Coakley's is passing out cards with cab numbers for those who plan to be doing heavy drinking, he said.
"I was in Baltimore for the last time they were in the Super Bowl," he said. "I don't think it's going to be nuts like that up here."
"St. Patrick's Day is usually a lot busier and we don't have any problems," he noted.
The Tower restaurant on Bel Air's Main Street has already booked its banquet rooms and expects to attract more people with a $5 buffet for the Super Bowl, as well as happy hour all day, Mario Buontempo said.
A DJ will also be available after the big game, as will two-for-one drink specials, he said.
"Last week, we were packed," Buontempo said, adding he was hoping for more people for the Super Bowl as well.
Regardless of what happens, Tracey said the Super Bowl benefits everyone in the county.
"Even if you are not a Ravens fan, if you hang out in a bar, you should be happy because it's great for the economy," he said.