Local bars and restaurants are giving away televisions, hosting private parties, and offering steep discounts on food and drink Sunday night. But that's nothing compared to what they would do if the Ravens were in the Super Bowl.
"It would be completely different," said Brian Reich, manager of Jilly's in Ellicott City.
When the Ravens beat the Giants 2001, Jilly's was "standing room only," he recalled. Oysters on the half shell and pit beef were among the culinary enticements. "We made it a really big party," he said.
But a Colts-Bears matchup? "It might be an average night," Reich said. "For the most part, people want to stay home."
Still, Jilly's will offer its usual happy hour treats, including reduced-price drinks and a free hot buffet of chicken wings and hot pasta dishes. And most of the restaurant's 25 televisions, including three projection-screen ones, will be tuned to the game, Reich said.
"We do have a couple of regulars who trudge out and spend it with us," Reich said.
Rewarding regulars and luring new customers seem to be the main reasons that restaurants ratchet up their offerings on a night when most people stay home to watch the game - and the commercials - with friends and family.
"People tend to stay home for the Super Bowl, so we're hoping to lure them out," said Alison McClune, manager of Bare Bones, which is offering a $15 buffet with steamed shrimp, a carved beef and other foods, as well as $2.50 house microbrews and 50 cents off all drinks.
Clyde's of Columbia will be preparing menu items to reflect the two teams in the game: a bratwurst sandwich for Chicago and a fried pork loin sandwich, called a Speedway, for Indiana, said general manager Paul Kraft. If the Ravens were in it, there would be a crab dish, he said.
But home team or no, customers venturing to Clyde's on Sunday night can enjoy a free buffet at halftime, with chicken wings, little quesadillas and other finger food. A raffle will give them the chance to win prizes including a television and gift certificates.
"Our approach is, we just kind of do it for the people who want to come out," Kraft said. Sometimes they turn into loyal customers, he said. The guy who won the television last year, he said, now returns every few weeks.
Champps, at The Mall in Columbia, will be closed to the general public, but for $60, Super Bowl fans can join the party, which includes an all-you-can eat appetizer buffet, an entree, dessert and two beverages. The game will be shown on the restaurant's 120-inch high-definition television, seven 52-inch screens and two 72-inch screens.
Michael's Pub in Kings Contrivance will have every television turned to the Super Bowl, and will give customers a free plate of wings when they purchase a pitcher of beer, plus other discounts on drinks and wings, said Jennifer Burnett, a manager and bartender there. There will be karaoke after the game.
This will be her third Super Bowl at Michael's, and she expects the night to be big. "All of our Sundays are big," she said. Still, Michael's is "pretty much a Ravens bar," and she doesn't expect the kind of enthusiasm that would accompany a Ravens Super Bowl.
Even bars that are loyal to the home team are celebrating the Super Bowl.
While Michael's has a wall of Ravens signatures and broadcasts a radio show on Thursdays with Raven Adalius Thomas, Tiber River Tavern, in Ellicott City, has a "Ravens Nest" chapter. This group of Ravens fans organizes charity events and attends home games, said bartender Lauren Armstrong, and meet about once a month at the bar..
She is expecting the group, which has 40 members, to show up, she said. Normally, the tavern's upstairs bar is closed Sundays, but it will be open for the Super Bowl. There will be food and drink specials, she said.
This will be the first Super Bowl for Game Sports Bar and Grill, on Scaggsville Road in Laurel, which opened in August.
"We're new, so we're not expecting it to be jam-packed in here," said Jeff Hunt, one of the owners. Fans can enjoy food and drink specials, while watching the game on the bar's two 50-inch plasma televisions and 35-inch TVs scattered throughout.
Rocky Run, in Columbia, will be offering the "normal football specials," said bartender David Pruitt, including 22-ounce drafts of Coors Light and Killian for $1.99 and specials on appetizers like nachos, wings and crab balls.
"We're not doing anything special because there's no local team," he said. Pruitt has been with the restaurant since 1999, and he remembers the "mob scene" of 2001.
In an alternate world, with the Ravens in the Super Bowl, the scene at Rocky Run would be very different, he said. "There would be lots of stuff going on," Pruitt said. "Probably giveaways and all kinds of stuff."
The Greene Turtle, in Columbia, will have beer and food specials and will show the game on its 40 plasma televisions and two 150-inch high-definition projection screens, said Mike Stoehr, owner of the Columbia location of the local chain.
"This will be our first Super Bowl, so we're anxious to see how it plays out," he said. "It's becoming more of a home event than a go-out event."
But there's a simple way to make the Super Bowl a bigger night for bars, he said.
"They could change all that if they change it to Saturday," he said.