A Ravens boost

The Baltimore Sun

If projections hold true for Saturday's Ravens playoff game, Padonia Station will see double.

About 35 workers at the Cockeysville restaurant are expected to serve 3,000 pounds of Buffalo wings and more than 100 cases of beer to a crowd of near 400, twice the numbers for a regular-season game day. Baltimore-area bars and restaurants such as Padonia Station have cashed in on the Ravens' run, generating business at a time when the sagging economy has led many people to dine at home.

"We're so excited with each win because it means that much more business for us," said Debi Fowler, sales and promotions manager at Padonia Station. Fowler noted that business has been down slightly over the past six months. "We've been maintaining, doing fine otherwise, but we like this added revenue."

Fowler said a near-capacity crowd watched the Ravens beat the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and that a similar turnout is expected for Saturday night's game against the Tennessee Titans, the American Football Conference's top seed.

The keen rivals have a history of hard-hitting playoff games, and Saturday's is expected to be no different. A Ravens win would send the franchise to its second conference championship game. Just as important for some area workers, a victory means another round of booming business.

Paul Hartgen, president of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, said most of the state's 174,000 restaurant workers probably are hoping for a Ravens ticker-tape parade. Hartgen said restaurant and bar sales in Maryland were down about $70 million for the first 10 months of last year, compared with the first 10 months in 2007.

"These things always help," Hartgen said of the Ravens making the playoffs. "Every bit counts. Anything from the inauguration coming up to the Ravens winning, all those things help the local economy. We need everything."

For Ron Furman, owner of Max's on Broadway in Fells Point, his added revenue extends past the weekend. Max's plays host to a popular Ravens radio talk show on Monday nights, a scene that Furman said draws about 100 people wearing purple-and-black jerseys and seeking autographs from the featured player.

Furman, speaking as Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata wrapped up his segment, estimated that Max's does about 50 percent more business on Monday nights when it hosts the show than during the offseason. He said his bar has been affected slightly by consumers' waning discretionary income.

"It's a shot in the arm when you really need it. That's the obvious part. But it's also the excitement that goes along with it. It makes it easier to go to work on a Monday," said Furman, Max's owner of 22 years. "You're always at a loss at the end of football season as to what you do now on Mondays and Sundays."

Max's will host the football show through the Super Bowl, but regulars say that the atmosphere will surely be different if the Ravens are eliminated from the playoffs and that attendance could plummet.

"I come out every Monday," said Jose Perez, 34, wearing an Ed Reed jersey. "I'm here all the time, and if they didn't have a show, not that many people would be here."

Winning, Perez and other fans say, keeps the party going.

"This brings everybody together," said Mark Donnelly, 44. "It's a festive time, winning in a year we didn't even expect it."

Bars that do not usually focus on sports also have seen business increase.

The Gin Mill in Canton underwent a transformation about a year ago from a rowdy, 20-something bar with $1 Miller Lite nights to a sit-down establishment catering to an older clientele, said owner Tammi Reeder, but interest in the Ravens has remained steady. The bar puts the game on its several flat screens and plays audio from the television broadcast over loudspeakers.

Reader described sales during the Dolphins game as "outstanding" and said the place was 95 percent full; capacity is 400. She said Sunday crowds have generally been heavy since the bar began offering brunch last summer and that the influx of Ravens fans has forced her to open the upstairs seating area.

"Overall, football has helped increase business, but we are losing some of our nonfootball fans during those times," Reader said. "But yeah, football really does help."

Ray Volkmann, part-time manager and bartender at the Claddagh Pub in Canton, said his establishment expected an "insane" number of fans for the game against the Dolphins but got something a little less than that.

About 100 people came out for the game, enough to fill both floors of the restaurant, though not to overflowing. Bartenders and servers were pleased by their tips, said Volkmann, who expects the crowds to grow as the Ravens advance.

"We all reap the benefits of the Ravens' winning streak," he said.

For more Ravens playoff coverage, see articles in Sports.

Corrections A caption on the front page of yesterday's editions incorrectly stated that the Ravens blocked a Dolphins field goal attempt. In fact it was an extra-point attempt. The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.
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