Dillon Walls has a novel — and potentially lucrative — plan for dealing with the capacity crowds he expects at Chopper’s Sports Grill for Super Bowl XLVIII.
"The last few days have been so busy that we’ve had some crowd-control problems," said Walls, general manager at the 18-year-old Cherry Creek watering hole. "It got to the point where our servers couldn’t even get through to serve."
Chopper’s, which features more than 50 HD TV sets, will sell 25 of its prime four-top tables at $100 a pop for the Feb. 2 game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. The bar will also raffle off "The Best Seat in Denver" (in its $100-per table section) to a lucky Broncos fan — which includes free beer for the entirety of the game.
Dozens of Front Range bars and venues are also upping their game-day offerings with creative deals, themed events and incentives to compete for customers and stand out from the crowd.
The Broncos’ Jan. 19 AFC playoff victory was one of the busiest days at Lower Downtown’s ViewHouse since it opened last spring. But the rooftop bar and restaurant isn’t waiting around for customers to flock to the 600-person capacity space.
"We realized that everyone and their mother’s going to have a Super Bowl party," said Paulina Szafranski, president of marketing for Lotus Concepts, which represents ViewHouse. "So we’re giving away a 55-inch 3D TV, we’ll have $2 ‘touchdown shots,’ a DJ, 42 TVs and confetti cannons for when the Broncos win."
As the first Broncos Super Bowl appearance in 15 years, Sunday’s game is both an excuse to show some hometown pride and cultivate new customers — as many bars and clubs do on the equally-busy New Year’s Eve.
"We’re prepared to fill up by noon or 1 p.m. at all of our locations," said Frank Schultz, owner of the Tavern Hospitality Group, which operates a half dozen area bars and a music venue. "When we were in the Super Bowl (in 1999), our downtown location was packed by three hours before the game. We’re planning for the same type of business so we have increased staffing everywhere."
The Tavern’s Soiled Dove Underground, normally a music club, will also offer a prize raffle and a $60 all-you-can-eat-and-drink special as part of its "Ultimate Broncos Party." The venue will show the game on a trio of 6-foot "movie screens" in its tiered main venue and broadcast the audio on its concert-quality PA system.
"Energy-wise, it probably will rival New Year’s Eve festivities," said Helen Wood, marketing director for the Tavern Group.
The culmination of Peyton Manning’s record-breaking season with the Broncos isn’t just a likely boon for sports bars. It’s a chance for music venues and nightclubs to get a piece of the action, said Brianna Hernandez, marketing director for indie rock club the Larimer Lounge.
"For the last playoff game we brought in a 10-foot screen, supplied free barbecue from Yazoo’s BBQ Company and poured the house free shots when the Broncos scored," she said. "The response was fantastic, so after last Sunday’s win we decided to (do the same thing) for a Super Bowl party."
To give it an extra spin, the Lounge’s talent buyer James Irvine has booked absurdist emcee and "American Idol" veteran Magic Cyclops to host karaoke before and after the game, in addition to offering merchandise and giveaways from Denver’s So-Gnar snow/skate and Megafauna clothing companies.
The RiNo district’s Tracks, a gay dance club, is offering $25 Skyy vodka bottle service for its "Big Gay Viewing Party," which includes five giant-screen TVs, lounge seating and "the best football foods" on its tailgate menu.
Like the Larimer Lounge’s party, there is no cover for patrons 21-and-up.
Aurora’s Mirage has one of the better deals around: For a $10 cover, fans can catch the game on a projection screen, enter to win prizes and enjoy food and drink as part of the entry charge.
Visit Denver, the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau, is also welcoming out-of-towners with its own "United in Orange" rundown of area sports bars. (See the full list at denver.org).
But for non-football fans, there is still hope.
"Are you confused why so many people are wearing orange and blue?" Duo Restaurant asked in a press release this week. "This is your night."
The restaurant is offering a three-course prix fixe dinner menu for $48 per person that proudly notes the lack of TV sets at the restaurant.
So why $48?
"Because it is the 48th Super Bowl," the press release noted. "We had to honor it somehow!"
John Wenzel: 303-954-1642, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/johnwenzel