CINCINNATI — As the Bengals get ready to kick off a new season on Sunday, bars and restaurants that have been struggling to survive through the COVID-19 pandemic hope the season start will bring some relief.
"I mean, it's Bengals season," said Nick Ramsey, manager at Holy Grail Tavern and Grille. "We have a new quarterback. Everyone's really excited."
Bengals fans have been waiting a long time to see quarterback Joe Burrow take the field in an NFL game, but because of the pandemic, they won't be able to watch him in person when the team takes on the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. That's where owners of bars and restaurants are hoping their businesses can come in.
"You won't be able to miss a TV from any seat in the house," said Ramsey. "We're going to make a few changes. We're going to arrange the furniture the best way we can to make sure everyone's got a spot while also following guidelines."
Local bars and restaurants are used to hosting huge crowds of Bengals fans on game day and they're hoping that fans will still turn out to see the team play.
After being closed for a few weeks, Kitty's Sports Grill just opened back up Thursday with the start of the NFL season, hoping the return of football will boost their business.
"Thursday Night Football, we actually did pretty decent for this time," said Billy Watson, owner of Kitty's Sports Grill. "Not compared to before."
While revenue still isn't bouncing back to what it was for these businesses before the pandemic, restaurant and bar owners said they still hope the return of football will help them bounce back with an extra business boost.
"Obviously, it's not going to be as good as in years past, but I do think it will help and some people will come out to watch it," said Watson.
Ramsey said he hopes Holy Grail will be at full capacity, even if that capacity is much lower now, with COVID-19 safety restrictions.