CINCINNATI — This weekend, a limited number of fans will be allowed inside Paul Brown Stadium for the first time this season. Anticipation is high for fans eager to see live NFL action and bar owners eager to try and reclaim some customers.
“Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you’re the building with the tiger on the side.' I said, ‘Yep, that’s us,’” said Billy Watson, co-owner of Kitty’s Sports Grill.
It’s hard to miss Kitty’s while walking down 3rd street with the wing-packed smoker out front and colorful big cat. Watson said the motif was an obvious choice given its proximity to the jungle and his love for the team.
“I’ve fortunately, or unfortunately, been a Bengals fan my whole life,” he said.
The bar is the one looking for a big win come Sunday, hoping this weekend will help them bounce back.
“We’re doing probably about a fifth of the business we did last year, maybe even less than that,” Watson said.
He said the number's down so much because the reduced capacity has limited the number of patrons inside to 70 instead of the usual 150. The number of staff is smaller, too.
“It would be like wall-to-wall people,” Watson said of weekend evenings before COVID-19. “All the tables would be full and we would have to stop letting people in because we would reach our occupancy.”
He said he’s thankful now for loyal customers that – like die-hard fans – are sticking with him through a tough season.
“Should be good. Not like in years past, like I said, but hey, we’ll take it, you know it,” Watson said.
Kitty’s has social distancing measures in place, including plexiglass at the bars, to keep people safe.