As football season kicks off businesses gear up
by Matt Shinall
Sep 03, 2010 | 2547 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Porshia Smith, left, and Cathrine Landrum, waitresses at Cartersville’s Game Time Sports Grille, will be busy in the coming months catering to area football fans. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Porshia Smith, left, and Cathrine Landrum, waitresses at Cartersville’s Game Time Sports Grille, will be busy in the coming months catering to area football fans. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
There are some parts of life identifiable with a group of people, commonly linking strangers through a shared passion.

In certain regions of the country, people tend to be drawn to a specific energy focused upon a sport. In the South, there is an inherent love of football and all things associated with it.

Another component inextricably tied to football in the South is food, good food and lots of it. From tailgating to stadium food, wings, burgers and barbecue comes the foundation for game day nutritional requirements.

Local businesses have tuned into this cultural phenomenon to their advantage, catering to the football fanatics that inhabit Bartow County.

Location was key for Scott Panter when establishing Scott's Walk-Up Bar-B-Q, at the corner of Tennessee Street and Howard Street, a stone's throw from Cartersville High School's Weinman Stadium.

Capitalizing on this location, which inspired the restaurant's beginnings, Scott's Walk-Up Bar-B-Q hosts a live remote broadcast of WBHF 1450 AM's pre-game show from the front porch each Friday night home game of the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes.

"My four biggest days were Fridays of football games. So it is a significant impact on my business, I wish they played everyday," Panter said with a laugh. "On Friday nights I have twice as many people here as a normal Friday night -- wait staff, cook staff, serving staff and what have you. And we do our best to smile and make people happy before they go to the ball game.

"There's a lot of people that have made it kind of a tradition where they come by here and have supper and then they go on over to the ball game. And we've got several couples and families that do that sitting on the porch listening to the radio folks over there. That's pretty neat, particularly for youngsters."

Another Cartersville eatery revving up for football season hopes to stay busy with spectators through February as it focuses on all realms of the sport from high school to professional.

Even in its name, Game Time Sports Grille pays tribute to its foundation as a sports bar and grill catering to fans of all kinds.

The original restaurant at 60 Slopes Drive in Cartersville has spawned a second location dubbed Game Time West at 70 Douthit Ferry Road carrying a similar sports centric theme.

"Football season increases a sports bar's sales probably 25 [percent] to 30 percent weekly," said Doug Roberson, co-owner of Game Time East. "You have football pretty much Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday every week and as the season progresses and people start keeping up with what teams are going to go to the playoffs, what teams are going to have a bid for the SEC or ACC title it gets a little more intense and the crowds get a little bigger.

"It stimulates the camaraderie that most people have for social football activities. College football, pro-football have always instinctively been programed in kids growing up in Georgia and in the South."

Flat screen televisions, pennants, and high school football schedules adorn the walls at Game Time inviting patrons to watch their favorite teams no matter the sport. Preparing for fall, renovations were conducted at the bar as well as the construction of an area emphasizing the hunting season with deer mounts and televisions dedicated to The Outdoor Channel.

Recent economic conditions have changed the way people enjoy their favorite sports, said Roberson. Budgets keep many fans at home yet still wanting to experience the communal atmosphere that can be found at the game.

"With the economy being the way it is, a lot of people can't go to the games like they use to. They just can't go spend 200 to 300 bucks to be able to fuel up, feed their self and pay for the tickets to go to Athens for the game," Roberson said. "You still want to go to an atmosphere that's lively that's doing nothing but promoting the game and it's almost a game-like atmosphere."

For businesses featuring all levels of football, among other sports, their sales ramp up toward the Super Bowl celebration. The changing of the season initiates the end of a slow summer as restaurants welcome the cooler days.

"Everything starts now to gear up now toward the Super Bowl," Roberson said. "Once the fall gets here, the sun starts setting, the weather changes and football is on, it all goes to a high point of Super Bowl. You'll see the most wings sold, the most food, the most beer all sold somewhere around the first week of February and then it goes back down."

Before the professionals make it to February, local students will complete an entire season within driving distance of home. The community wide excitement that Panter sees radiating from high school football fills his parking lot and continues a legacy, he said.

"There's always been real good football [in Cartersville], it dates back generations and the fans have always been good fans." Panter said. "It's almost like a community party. That's the atmosphere the fans have coming into the restaurant prior to the game and I know it's a very festive atmosphere here at Scott's Walk Up Barbecue. I've got people coming in to volunteer to help out just because they get to see their buddies and friends and have a good time doing it."

Panter ropes off a portion of his parking lot for game day parking, free of charge, while leaving a smaller portion open for restaurant guests. Beyond the radio show and game day dining, Scott's Walk-Up Bar-B-Q provides discounted sandwiches for Cartersville High concessions. Being a part of the excitement allows Panter to join in the team's success which he feels will continue to bring business his way.

"It's great to support hometown football. You bring the fans out. You know, they won their first ball game against Pepperell, I think that surprised a lot of people so I think that may get some more folks out for Friday night football games," Panter said.