Aspen businesses hope for Super Bowl boost |

Aspen businesses hope for Super Bowl boost

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Courtesy photo

Editor’s note: “Bringing It Home” runs weekends in The Aspen Times and focuses on state, national or international issues that have ties to or impacts on the Roaring Fork Valley.

At face value, a single Super Bowl ticket ranged from $800 to $2,500 this year, with actual values running considerably higher. A 30-second TV commercial during this year’s game will cost the advertiser $4 million.

In other words, the NFL and a whole lot of companies stand to make a hell of a lot of money on Super Bowl XLVIII.

But many Aspen and Basalt businesses will be vying for a piece of the trickle-down pie by making the big game a fun experience for patrons.

The upper Roaring Fork Valley might not have been covered head to toe in Denver Broncos orange in the days leading up to the game — there was the matter of an epic snowstorm with which to deal — but there will be a lot of big and little Peyton Manning jerseys flying around on the slopes this morning and around town this afternoon. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the fervor on game day can translate into cash and marketing opportunities.

You can expect a lively crowd at Cantina restaurant at the corner of Main and Mill streets in Aspen today, where everyone will get a free orange or blue Jell-O shot whenever the Broncos score a touchdown or field goal.

Cantina planned to make 600 such shots in advance, bartender Jaila Jafarabadi said Saturday. Will that be enough?

“It’s going to be fun,” Jafarabadi promised. “Did I mention we have the best bartenders in town?”

The excitement at Cantina during the playoffs was evident, especially during the win over the New England Patriots two weeks ago, she said.

“Everybody in the bar was pulling together for the Broncos — and shouting for more Jell-O shots,” Jafarabadi said.

Cantina always throws a big Super Bowl party, offering food and drink specials throughout the restaurant and supplying two giant TV screens in separate dining areas for prime viewing, she pointed out.

But with Denver in the game for the first time since 1999, “this is an even more special occasion,” she said, adding that there will be raffle prizes of Broncos jerseys, a snowboard, Rockies tickets and ski passes.

Others are using unique methods to bring in business. The Riverside Grill in Basalt will give away a Fat Tire cruiser-style bicycle to a lucky patron through a special raffle. Some beer-drinking is involved in order to be eligible.

Tickets at some eating and drinking establishments were already sold out, or close to selling out, 24 hours before the 4:30 p.m. game time.

Envisioning crowds that might become too large and uncomfortable, Finbarr’s, on Aspen’s Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall, went with an exclusive approach.

The pub sold out its 130 seats (bar and dining area) days ago. Reservations were required, and each one accompanied a guaranteed $50 minimum tab. Therefore, someone who only eats or drinks $40 worth will have to pony up an extra $10 to cover their tab.

But general manager Joe Flamer doesn’t expect that to happen. During the Super Bowl party, $50 can be consumed quickly.

“We’re not even advertising anymore because we sold out on all our seats,” he said Thursday. “It’s a minimum price per seat, and it goes toward your bill. We only sold 130 seats. We don’t want people standing behind people, so we just decided to do it this way. We did it for last year’s Super Bowl, as well.”

Obviously, if a customer goes over $50, they will have to make up that difference, as well, Flamer said.

At the Meatball Shack on South Mill Street in Aspen, the cover charge for the party is $120. All but 10 seats were snapped up as of Saturday afternoon.

That price guarantees one of 43 seats, some food and all the alcohol someone can handle.

“There is a fixed menu, and the price also includes all the beers, wine and well drinks,” said an employee who didn’t want her name used.

“Someone bought out the restaurant and has invited guests,” she said, “but whoever wants to come in and spend the money for one of the seats that are left, they are more than welcome to — as long as something is available.”

Of course, there are ways of making money on the game that don’t involve selling party food and alcohol.

Over near Rio Grande Park in Aspen, there will be an invitation-only party at Via International/Paragon Technology Group’s office. The company has invited more than 75 clients and friends, said marketing coordinator Leah Schlein.

She stressed that the event is not open to the general public. Game-watchers will have access to the company’s indoor theater, which includes a 165-inch screen.

“We typically hold a Super Bowl party every year,” she said. “There is a 15-person private theater in our showroom at Obermeyer Place. More people will be in there than that.”

In August, Aspen-based Paragon Technology Group officially merged with six other companies to form a larger entity, Via International.

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