BILLINGS — On Sunday, Billings bars were packed with hungry and thirsty customers aiming to watch Super Bowl LV on and staff were happy to serve them during the bar's first major event since state COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed in January.
Q2 stopped by The Vig Alehouse and Casino, The Stadium Club and Hooligan's Sports Bar during the game to hear how the night was moving along for staff.
About an hour before kickoff, patrons were starting to trickle into the Vig.
"We expect to just have all of our awesome regulars coming in and hanging out and chilling. Even though it’s cold, hopefully they still come out," said Jennifer Bauers, a Vig manager.
Bauers said the nights have been more exciting with no more limits on capacity or operating hours.
“People can have their birthday parties again. When their friends come into town and they want to hang out at their favorite place, they can all come together. It’s been really, really positive and uplifting for everybody," Bauers said.
Bauers said she wasn't sure whether Vig customers and staff were rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs or Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Just go sports ball. I hope both teams said fun," Bauers said with a laugh.
During the Super Bowl's first quarter, fans were whooping and cheering for their team inside a bustling Stadium Club. One of the bar tenders, Leslie Stokoe said previous months have been a bit slow for the bar business, so the football fans were a nice sight for staff.
“It’s good to see a bunch of people getting out. I think people were cooped up for way to long. This is the first big event after the governor opened the state back up and we have a good turn out. Lots of people in here for it," said Leslie Stokoe, bar tender at the Stadium Club.
Since state COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed, Stokoe said business has picked up, especially during the later night hours.
“It definitely has picked up a little bit. It was rough there for a little bit, but the last couple of weeks has been really good and we’ve seen more people coming out, especially later at night. It’s been good," Stokoe said.
While there were plenty of people in the Stadium Club's bar, the kitchen was busy whipping up food, a lot of which was served to-go, Stokoe said.
“We do a lot of wing orders. The kitchen is definitely busy. They’re a little busier than the bar I think on Super Bowl We get a lot of wing orders to-go. But everybody in here eats too, so it’s a fair day for the bar," Stokoe said.
Staff were also busy with a full house at Hooligan's Sports Bar. Waitress, Saige Garcia said it was good to have patrons back for a big event.
“Honestly, it’s exciting. We miss the people. We miss the excitement, the fun, the rush. We’re really happy to have it back and have a big event again," Stokoe said.
When it came to which football team had the bar's support, Garcia's section of tables in the back of the bar seemed to favor the the Chiefs, she said.
“I think so far, the Chiefs. I see some people wearing some jerseys. I think my tables are going for the chiefs more so," Garcia said.
Hooligans staff have seen more and more people coming in since the state COVID-19 restrictions were eased, Garcia said.
“It’s been great. It’s been good. We have a lot of great customers that come in to see us and they’ve just been so great and welcoming. We’re doing good now, thank goodness. We’re grateful to be back open fully," Garcia said.