By BILL JONES
Bobby Jedrzejczak, or “Bobby J. the Pizza Man,” as he’s known, stood beaming behind the counter of Domino’s Pizza in Punta Gorda last week as he contemplated today’s Super Bowl Sunday business rush.
“It’s my busiest day of the year — two to three times normal” for a Sunday,” he said. “I’d advise customers to order before 4 or after 7, or they could face a long wait during the game.”
Jedrzejczak said he expected to sell up to 400 pizzas, with 10 drivers working, doubling the normal complement.
Up the road in North Port, Rob Hunt, one of the managers at Marco’s Pizza, said on Super Bowl Sunday, “we just pretend it’s a Friday, which is our Super Bowl Sunday every week.”
He added the store’s limited staff has to be flexible, especially since the employees don’t make the pies until an order comes in, with orders for multiple pizzas — sometimes 15 to 20 — coming in from lots of customers.
“You know people are going to call an hour before kickoff, during halftime, and an hour after the game,” he said. “But everybody’s pretty understanding. (Customers) know deliveries might take an extra five minutes.”
In Englewood, naturally, things are a little more laid back.
Greg Lyon, co-owner of the End Zone Sports Bar, said Super Bowl Sunday is a busy day but not the busiest. It’s rivaled by the football playoffs and college basketball’s March Madness. Last year, the End Zone’s patrons consumed 1,500 wings during the Super Bowl, and he expects the volume to be about the same. Throughout the nation, today will be a day of gastronomical excess — maybe not quite gluttony, but pretty close — for more than 100 million people watching the Super Bowl.
Day of plenty
And it will be a day of plenty for the snack-food industry.
Therefore, area restaurants and takeout services, particularly emporiums purveying pizza and chicken wings, are licking their chops as they prepare for as much as a 100 percent jump in orders during the day.
It will be the biggest day of the year — nationally and locally — for pizza and chicken wing sales, and it will rival Thanksgiving in many other food- and beverage-consumption categories.
Nationally over the Super Bowl weekend, according to food industry statistics, people will consume some 30 billion pounds of snacks, including:
• 4 million pizzas (32 million slices), not including grocery-store stock.
• 1.23 billion wings.
• 30 million pounds of potato and tortilla chips, pretzels, popcorn and nuts.
• 50 million cases of beer.
And, as a result, research confirms, some 5.9 million Super Bowl revelers, primarily men ages 18 to 34, either will fail to show up for work Monday, or will call in sick.
Nationally, Domino’s reported that it expects its drivers to log more than 4 million miles, doubling the normal Sunday, delivering more than 1.4 million pies.
And it also should be a good day for delivery drivers, according to www. pizza.com , with a normal $2 tip rising to as high as $20 from partygoers.
At Pizza Hut in Port Charlotte, shift manager William Gardner estimated pizza orders would increase from 180 to 200 on a normal Sunday, to up to 400 today, with a staff increased for the day from seven to 19 or 20. Nationally, Pizza Hut expects to sell 2 million pies.
And the favorite is With all this pizza being consumed, what’s the favorite? It depends.
In Punta Gorda, would it be pepperoni? No, smiled Jedrzejczak, it’s actually veggie pizza, favored by young customers trying to stay fit, and older customers concerned with their health.
Do Port Charlotte folks like veggie pizza too? No way, Gardner smiled broadly. The top order is the meat-eater’s pizza, a somewhat coronary-occlusion concoction featuring meatballs, Italian sausage, ham, pepperoni and bacon.
Kim Miller, manager of Dean’s North of the Border in Charlotte Harbor, concurred with Port Charlotte’s top choice. It’s the meat-eater’s pizza, hands down, followed by another potentially digestiondisabling device, Buffalo chicken pizza.
At Angelo’s Pizza in Englewood, front staff manager Justin Green joined the Port Charlotte chorus, saying that meat is the favorite pizza topping for his customers, particularly pepperoni and sausage. He said Angelo’s sold about 100 pizzas last year during the Super Bowl, and he expects about the same business this year.
Angela Caputo, manager of Old Monty’s Restaurant and Pizzeria in Punta Gorda, without delivery service or TV, said she still expects a rush, particularly just before kickoff and again at halftime, when customers are in a hurry to get back home to the game.
The key to meeting that rush, said Randi Crain, manager of Buffalo Wild Wings in North Port, is preparation. Crain said the business orders lots of extra food and makes up a list of delivery orders ahead of time so staff members know when they have to go out.
“People call in their orders a week in advance, and we have times scheduled so everyone gets their food on time,” she said.
At Buffalo Wings & Rings in North Port, all 50 TVs will be tuned in to the game in New Orleans.
“We’re not doing too much,” restaurant co-owner David Bourlier said, adding most of the business today will be from takeout orders. “Most everybody’s got football parties. I ordered 30 cases of wings, which is around 7,000 wings, which is more than last year.”
Oh, and one other thing is on tap today besides food.
Staff writers Anne Klockenkemper and Tom Chang contributed to this story.