By CHERYL HALL Staff Writer, Dallas Morning News
Published 08 February 2011 08:51 PM
In late December, everyone was betting on the Super Bowl. Al Biernat was planning to pitch a party tent to handle his festive overflow. Eric Devlin had new vehicles and dozens of extra limo drivers to help him move movers and shakers. Gina Puente bought $50,000 in official NFL merchandise to stock four special kiosks at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Eddie Gossage’s motor was revving for the best track rental day in the Texas Motor Speedway’s 15-year history.
That was before sleet and snow played havoc with everyone’s plans. Now that out-of-towners are out of town, I posed the question: Was the Super Bowl good for you?
Not for Gossage, who saw six figures in revenue blow out the tailpipe when six on-track corporate events were canceled. “We didn’t make one penny of revenue from the Super Bowl,” he says. “The weather won in a rout.”
Others made hay when the sun finally shone. The Ranch at Las Colinas , Whiskey Cake Kitchen in Plano and Ojos Locos Sports Cantinas in Dallas and Sundance Square got early liftoffs as setup crews arrived.
Then came terrible Tuesday, followed by even-worse Wednesday, says Judd Fruia, director of operations for Front Burner Restaurants LP. By Thursday, the restaurants were running at two to three times normal. The 500-seat Ranch reached hour waits at peak times with per-head tabs running $80, up from the usual $40. Plus, they were good tippers. “Staff got triple, sometimes four times, what they normally make.”
Nick & Sam’s partner Joseph Palladino gave a similar account. “Friday and Saturday were insane. We were packed until 1:15 in the morning.” Palladino surveyed a Friday night crowd that included Rush Limbaugh, Al Michaels, Michael Irvin, New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft and T. Boone Pickens. “They were all looking at Carlos Slim [chief executive of Telmex], who’s worth $72 billion. Their money was chump change compared to this guy.”
On Saturday, one party of 10 spent $12,000 in wine before their entrees were served. The restaurant brought in nearly $700,000 — triple its normal week.
Kaye Burkhardt, who owns Dallas Fan Fares Inc., handled ground arrangements for the wealthy owner of a company in Pittsburgh who wasn’t taking chances with the inclement weather. She booked his 50-person entourage at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. “They played golf, did the Austin scene and flew here Sunday,” she says. “We took them straight to the game in heated buses. Then they got back on the buses and flew out for another day of golf in Austin.”
The weather didn’t deter a deBoulle client from Mexico City who flew to Dallas on his jet, arrived by limo and purchased an $87,000 Patek Philippe. “He is a big watch collector,” Denis Boulle says. “We are now working on something special to make his wife happy as well.”
Richard Eiseman is still working on selling “a couple of cool watches from Rolex and Breitling” to Diddy. And the owner of Eiseman Jewels at NorthPark Center had a Super Bowl visitor select “a fabulous and important design of emerald-cut blue sapphire earrings. She’s an out-of-town suite owner who still supports the Cowboys in her jewelry color selections.”
Devlin, president of Premier Transportation Services, brought in more than $700,000 in Super Bowl bucks — nearly three times what he had envisioned. His 110 vehicles and 100 chauffeurs motored around Terry Bradshaw , Howie Long , Michelle Pfeiffer, Lynn Swann and Joe Montana and logged more than 4,000 billable hours.
Devlin also fielded special requests. A California client wanted a barber to give his four-man security team haircuts and was willing to pay $200 per in-house trim. “Needless to say, it only took one phone call to find a barber who wanted to make $2,400 for one hour’s work every other day,” Devlin says.
‘A very good day’
What a difference a day made. As of Monday, Puente still owned nearly all of her NFL merchandise at the airport. “I was sweating bullets,” says the chief executive of Puente Enterprises, who also operates a variety of permanent airport concessions. “But yesterday [Monday] was gargantuan, the biggest day in the history of our company. One of our smaller newsstands, which on a good day does $4,500, did $15,000. And we moved through the lion’s share of our Super Bowl merchandise.
“We would have been in big trouble if yesterday hadn’t happened.” Dee Lincoln says patrons of her suite-level Tasting Room & Bubble Bar at Cowboys Stadium went for the good stuff during the Super Bowl. She sold 200 glasses of Veuve Clicquot at $25 a pour — five times what she usually uncorks during a Cowboys game. “When you sell 1,000 glasses of wine [which cost up to $70] and 250 bottles of champagne, it was a very good day.”
Biernat was worried when the Super Bowl hordes evaporated Monday before the game. “Then Thursday, it explodes, and people go crazy,” he says. “We did a quarter-million dollars on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Compared to what we did last year, we were up $136,000 for those four days.”
The star power caused gridlock: “Cameron Diaz, A-Rod, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler and a lot of famous football players like Marcus Allen and Eric Dickerson,” he ticks off the A-list. It was so crowded that Biernat took celebrities through the kitchen to get to their cars. Biernat gets the shakes when he recounts how general manager Brad Fuller had to turn down Diddy, who wanted to bring in a party of 20 on Saturday night. “It was so sad. I would love to have a guy like that in my restaurant.”