Sunday will be the second time in the Carolina Panthers’ short history the team has made it to the Super Bowl, and fans near and far are eager to watch the team face off against the Denver Broncos.
Area businesses and restaurants are preparing for a busy day Sunday as well.
In July of 1995, the Panthers won their first ever game as a new NFL franchise against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 20-14. Then in its second season, Carolina made it to the NFC conference championship game after defeating the previous year’s Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys, but fell in the championship game to the Green Bay Packers.
Several years later, the Panthers were back on top and faced off against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl game, falling 32-29 in 2004.
Since that appearance, Carolina has made it to the playoffs a handful of times, but this year has been a standout year with the team only losing one game, and now, with a 15-1 record, will meet the Broncos (12-4) with a 6:30 p.m. kick-off Sunday.
“With the Panthers playing, we are expecting a lot of business, a lot more than a normal Super Bowl day,” said Rachel Slater, manager of the Elkin Papa John’s pizza store.
Slater, who is pulling for the Panthers to win, said customers can call in as early as two or three days ahead of the game for plan-ahead orders, and someone will be on hand by 10 a.m. Sunday to start taking orders for game day.
Papa John’s will have extra staff working to handle the expected business, and while they may not be able to watch the game themselves, Slater said she hopes to have a radio set up in the store so they can listen to the game.
Other businesses also are planning ahead for the big game, with some taking advanced orders on wings and pizzas and staying open a couple of hours later than normal to accommodate customers’ needs.
Mazzini’s is one of those who are taking orders ahead of game day and staying up until 6 p.m., instead of closing at 4 p.m.
For those who are hosting their own Super Bowl watching party, or are heading to the home of a friend or family member, area grocery and meat centers also are stocked up with supplies.
If watching the game on big screens surrounded by lots of other fans and having food and drinks provided is more appealing than cooking at home, 222 Public House is offering a Super Bowl VIP Party for $20.
The party will include a private room for the first 50 fans, games, drawings, and prizes. Beverages will be an additional cost. A special buffet will be available from 7 to 11 p.m. with football-watching foods like chicken tenders, chicken legs, soft pretzels, pizza, chips and popcorn and more.
Whether fans are pulling for the home team Panthers or the Broncos, area businesses are ready to accommodate the needs of Super Bowl watchers.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.