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Pizza's the preference on Super Sunday

January 27, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

With just over two hours left before kickoff at Super Bowl XXXI, pizza delivery drivers across the Tri-State area were putting on their game faces.

While the Patriots and Packers were tuning up for the biggest game of their lives, the drivers were preparing for one of their busiest days of the year.

"The Super Bowl and stuff like that, they make sure they're ready," said Wayne Topper, a delivery driver for Rocky's New York Pizza on South Potomac Street in Hagerstown.

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Topper, who worked until 5 p.m. on Sunday, missed the crush of orders, which began to pick up about 6 p.m.

Normally, he said, it's hard to guess which days will be busy, but the Super Bowl is a safe bet. Manager Adrian Curca said the restaurant usually sees a 30 to 35 percent increase in business on Super Sunday.

"Sometimes, you get more deliveries in an hour than you do in five hours," he said.

From big Super Bowl parties to small get-togethers, pizza is a popular menu choice. Managers of area pizza shops said the Super Bowl ranks with New Year's Eve and other holidays as one of the busiest days of the year. In Hagerstown, store managers said the Mummers' Parade also is a boost for business.

"We're usually real busy up until halftime," said Domino's Manager Brian Davis, who added that deliveries average about 50 percent higher during the Super Bowl.

David London, manager of the Little Caesars on East Antietam Street, said the store sees up to 50 percent more business on the day of the big game.

London said he doesn't even need a television set to know whether the game is running on schedule.

"We usually get a big, early morning rush," he said. "We know when it's starting and when it's halftime. And then, usually, the fans of the winning team will order pizza to celebrate."

London said the chain has been promoting a deal since Jan. 1 that gives customers two medium pizzas, in boxes shaped like football fields and a life-sized football poster.

Although the Super Bowl has become an American holiday of sorts, pizza shop managers said business varies by region, often depending on who is playing.

Sam Buhrman, manager of the Pizza Hut on Virginia Avenue in Hagerstown, said last year, for instance, was great for business because of strong Pittsburgh Steelers fan support.

"The closer the team, the more we get," she said.

Rob Keene, who oversees Pizza Huts in Washington County and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, said interest has varied in other parts of the country he has worked in. He added that business is usually better if the game stays close.

"It's different everywhere you go," he said. "It even depends on the teams that are playing. If it's not an interesting game, it's going to be a short evening."

Some pizza shops said they are much busier on Super Sunday than a normal Sunday and others reported that they are not sure.

Tadeus Encia, manager of John's New York Pizza on West Washington Street in Hagerstown, said the restaurant had only been open a couple months during last year's Super Bowl. This year, he said he planned to add two additional drivers to handle an anticipated rush.

"We'll have four drivers, but if we get real busy, we'll send out a grill person or something," he said.

Rocky's driver Sam Resh has no down time like he often does on Sundays, and several of his customers are stocking up for the Super Bowl.

"We ordered before the game even started," said a man on Mulberry Street who identified himself as Craig, who was entertaining several friends. "It's just a little annual thing we do."

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