The “Playoffs on the Patios” Bills game day event on Chippewa is already a huge success. 8 hours after announcing that Chippewa would be partially closed off to traffic, for 260 Bills’ fans to cheer on the team together, safely outdoors, the event sold out. Chris Ring (Rec Room), who organized the undertaking with Jay Manno (SoHo), told me that he never would have thought that people would respond the ways that they did.
“I can’t believe how fast people signed up to be a part of this,” said Ring. “I probably have 800 texts and emails from people who didn’t get reservations for this particular game day event. People are excited about watching the Bills together… it was a huge response, and something that we’re ready for. Jay and I have years of experience in the entertainment and restaurant business, so we will be reaching all expectations.”
Ring also told me that there were originally talks of holding this event in another part of WNY. “A friend of Jay’s called us and mentioned the idea for an event to possibly be held in Williamsville. We asked if we could host it on Chippewa, and he was cool with that. We were lucky because the Mayor had extended summer patio licenses though May, with the thought that we might be able to have a Christmas market. But then we went to orange, and nothing happened. But we had the paperwork filed with the City, and the all of the approvals in place. All we had to do was rent the tables and chairs, and the video walls.”
While Rec Room is currently closed, this event is a shining light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. “We tried the take-out angle during the pandemic,” explained Ring. “But we were losing money. We ended up closing. Now, with 260 people, with proper social distancing (67 tables – 8 feet apart), it’s worth it. We can get tax revenue generated for the City, put people back to work for a little while, and 260 Bills fans who couldn’t make it to the game will have something to really cheer about.”
Ring is confident that everything will go according to plan on game day. “If everyone behaves (and as the Bills win), we will be looking to get approval for future games.”
It is interesting to note that this game day exercise on Chippewa was always one of the overarching visions for the original street closure concept, which unfolded as the pandemic took hold. This past summer, I don’t think that anyone could have imagined that the Bills would be kicking so much butt, and that Chippewa would be in line for such a game day frenzy in January. Sometimes, when the stars are aligned – there are many stars in this case – we see greatness arise.
Once the pandemic is over, it would be amazing to see this same sort of street party held throughout the year, with even more players, for all sorts of celebratory occasions.
No matter where you find yourself this coming Saturday, be sure to take all necessary pandemic precautions. Remember to “Celebrate Safely!”