Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 2 was the one Sunday this year that licensed bars could sell alcohol beverages for consumption in Athens. Profits from the night varied — some bars and restaurants exceeded their expectations for the day, while other late-night joints didn’t see much of a difference in sales compared to past Super Bowl Sundays.
Per the local alcoholic beverage ordinance, bars with Class D, E or F liquor licenses can sell alcohol from 12:30 p.m. Sunday until 2:30 a.m. on Monday one Sunday per year. In December, the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission designated Super Bowl Sunday as this year’s one Sunday bars could sell alcohol during this time frame.
Sister Louisa’s Church on West Clayton Street was subject to these rules, as well as other bars that stayed open, such as Allgood Lounge and Cutters Pub.
Church exceeded expectations with alcohol sales, owner Jon McRae said. The bar was open last year on the one Sunday that bars could be open — St. Patrick’s Day. Church’s sales were “up 200%” on Super Bowl Sunday this year compared to St. Patrick’s Day last year, McRae said.
McRae attributes this year’s success to Church’s unique image, plus the fact that this is the third year that bars can be open on one Sunday.
“There’s a novelty to Church being open on a Sunday,” McRae said.
Alongside bars, restaurants such as Clarke’s Standard had successful Super Bowl Sundays too. Owner Corey Ripley was surprised with the success, estimating that total sales increased by about 50-60% from last year’s Super Bowl. Clarke’s, unlike Church, is usually open on Sundays because it’s a restaurant.
Clarke’s was open until 2:30 Monday morning — usually, the restaurant and bar is open until midnight on Sundays. Yet Ripley took advantage of these extra hours. He typically shoots for $1,400-$1,500 in sales on Sundays — on Feb. 2, Clarke’s had about $2,700 in sales.
Other late-night spots in Athens didn’t do as well. Starland Pizzeria and Pub had a “normal” Sunday, said owner Chad Glover, while senior staff member Patrick Nolan from The World Famous said their Sunday was slow and comparable to “a typical weekday.” During last year’s inaugural Athens St. Patrick’s Day Festival, however, The World Famous was “busy all day.”
“We figured that everyone else was at another [place],” Nolan said about this year’s Super Bowl.
Liquor license holders who do not have Sunday sales — which include most bars downtown — receive a ballot when they receive renewal information for their liquor license every year. Each establishment votes for the Sunday they wish to be open for the next year. The ACC Mayor and Commission then approve the date once they receive the votes.
Ripley was surprised Super Bowl Sunday was the chosen day this year. It’s “generally a stay-home day,” Ripley said.
Last year, the St. Patrick’s Day festival brought in sales from the street festival to Clayton Street bars. This year’s AthFest was on the ballot, but the Super Bowl ultimately garnered the most support from bar owners, according to a December 2019 commission agenda item.
“I always vote for AthFest Sunday,” McRae said. “The thinking for me when I cast my vote is, ‘What is a Sunday that people will want to be going out?’”