By Mason W. Canales and Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
Lovers have Valentine's Day. Kids have Christmas morning.
Football fans have the Super Bowl - and local sports bars are gearing up for one of their biggest nights of the year.
In Killeen, bars along the U.S. Highway 190 corridor will be filled to capacity with Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers fans by kickoff time. Managers are advising guests to arrive early to secure a seat.
At Pluckers, empty seats will be found only in the heated patio and dining areas, manager Glenn Steeley said. Reserve bar-area tables and bar top seats have been sold out for almost a week.
But wherever guests sit or stand, Steeley said, they'll be able to see and hear the game. Pluckers has 65 TVs and sound throughout the building.
Three dollar shot specials will be offered, and up to 25 staff members will be on hand to keep service flowing smoothly, Steeley said.
"We make sure we have the staff to cover all our sections, and there's about three tables to a section."
If Super Bowl Sunday isn't Pluckers' biggest day of the year, Steeley said, it's definitely one of them.
Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar will likely be at capacity tonight, manager Misty Siebel said, and kitchen staff will be working at warp speed to fill the many take-out orders the restaurant receives before and during the game.
"(We get) lots and lots of orders for wings," she said.
To prepare her staff, Siebel said, "We just go out for the past few years and let them know it's going to be crazy, and everyone's going to come early to get their seats."
With 38 TVs, the restaurant likely will draw first-time visitors, as well as many regular football night patrons, she said.
"Green Bay-Pittsburgh is going to be a huge game."
There are Green Bay and Pittsburgh fans in Killeen, Siebel said, but she's noticed more Steelers fans throughout the season.
While Tilted Kilt - "The 'best looking' sports pub you've ever seen" - is new to Killeen, the national chain is no stranger to Super Bowl festivities, event coordinator Brandon Hadlock said.
"I think we have 240 seats, and I don't imagine having any open seats," he said.
They'll be awarded on a "first-come, first-served" basis.
But while the bar is sure to be full, he said, football shenanigans will be trumped by St. Patrick's Day sales. Traditionally, he said, Super Bowl sales start off high, but wane into the evening.
To combat that, happy hour specials will be offered throughout the day and night. A $5 extra wing special will be offered.
In terms of fans, Hadlock said both Green Bay and the Steelers have been well represented throughout the season. He expects the house to be split evenly tonight between green and black.
"The Super Bowl is huge for sport bar business," Buster's Sports Bar owner Russell Meyer said. "It is like what Christmas is for Dillard's and JCPenney."
The crowd that comes in to watch the Super Bowl makes the Sunday one of the best days of the year for business, Wet Willy's Day Manager Andy McCorick said.
Nights are traditionally always backed up at his establishment, but day business hardly ever matches the business nights, he said.
"We are lucky, the daytime hours are touch and go, but on Sunday the Super Bowl is a big boom, because you are packing in a great night into the daytime shift," he said.
Sports City Grill is also expecting a full house with about half the bar being Packer fans and the other half filled with Steelers fans, Head Cook Marcus Banks said.
"It is pretty packed during the Super Bowl," he said.
Each of the three businesses is letting customers reserve tables for the event and expects football fans to start rolling through their doors around 2 p.m. All three also are having either door prizes or raffle prizes.
Sport City Grill will have a wing-eating contest during the halftime show. Wet Willy's will be providing smoked brisket and all the fixings for its customers. And Buster's will serve a free buffet while it lasts.
Broad fan base
During the season, local bars have also seen Packers and Steelers fans start to call their establishments home.
It isn't uncommon to see someone who supports every team in the NFL in the Killeen-Harker Heights area, McCorick said.
Because of the military, there are people who are from all over the United States as well as all over the world and those people love to support the same teams they did while growing up, Meyer said.
While some people do stay at home to throw their own Super Bowl parties, going out to the sports bar to catch the game is another well-accepted tradition, he said.
"Everything they need is right there," Meyer said. "You don't have to go to the kitchen to get a drink … It is an American tradition. People love to go to that neighborhood bar to celebrate that event that is as big as the Super Bowl."
A "BIG Screen Viewing Party," will take place from 3 to 11 p.m. at the Salado Silver Spur Theatre in downtown Salado. The Spuradical Social Club will serve wine, beer, cider and food choices (hot dogs, chili dogs, Frito pie, fajitas & more) in the lobby. The Silver Spur is located at 108 Royal Street. Reservations are suggested. Call the box office at (254) 947-3456. For directions or more information, go to www.saladosilverspurtheater.com.
The Beltonian Theater in Belton is hosting "The Beltonian Super Football Sunday" from 4 to 10 p.m. Attendees can watch the Steelers and Packers on a 384-inch screen and hear it in Dolby Digital surround sound with other cheering fans. "Super" buckets of beers and other refreshments will be available for purchase. Admission is $6. The theater is at 219 E. Central Ave.
Contact Mason W. Canales at email@example.com or (254) 501-7554. Follow him at Twitter at KDHheights.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.