- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2006

Area bar and restaurant owners expect packed houses this afternoon as crowds gather to watch the Washington Redskins play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

“People are going to do two things. They’re going to sit home or, if they want to go out, they’re going to go out where they feel there’s a crowd sense,” said Paul Meagher, manager of the Hawk ‘n’ Dove on Capitol Hill.

If football fans can’t be in Tampa to see the game in person, a bar full of burgundy and gold, beer and food, and rowdy, cheering fans could be the next best thing.

“We were thinking of opening another room for the game, but I said no. I want to keep the crowd feeling, like you were in a stadium,” Mr. Meagher said.

From 4 p.m. until the end of the game, the bar will be running a $2.50 special on “stadium” beers — the plastic, 16-ounce bottled beers commonly served at sporting events.

At the Glory Days Grill in Sterling, Va., manager Greg Elfstrom expects a full house.

“I think the whole game thing is people like coming to a venue like this because they’re being supported by other fans that are getting behind the team,” said Mr. Elfstrom, whose restaurant is knocking $1 off its sandwiches featuring buffalo chicken tenders and pollock, a white fish from Alaska.

“With regard to the Redskins, it’s been very noticeable and great for business. There was a lot of skepticism at the beginning of the season, but the spirit has come up,” he said.

Glory Days faces one of its 32 televisions outside the restaurant to accommodate fans on the patio waiting for a table. During the Philadelphia Eagles game Sunday, there was a 30- to 40-minute wait, Mr. Elfstrom said.

At most bars, Redskins game days are good for the cash register. The further the team goes in the playoffs, the better. The team hasn’t made the playoffs in six seasons.

“The Redskins games always draw a big crowd, we do pretty well,” said Jimmy McGeehan, manager of Joe Theismann’s in Alexandria.

The former Redskins quarterback will be announcing the game for ABC today.

The ESPN Zone in the District will have all of its 33 new plasma high-definition TVs in its dining room tuned into the game.

“People will get a kick out of watching the game in that room,” said Bonnie Downing, an ESPN Zone spokeswoman. “Fans who really want to see the game should plan to get there early.”

The Barking Dog in Bethesda is running its typical Saturday specials of $5 buffalo wings and $3 Budweiser drafts and bottles. The bar’s staff is expecting a bar brimming with burgundy and gold.

“Saturdays are normally pretty good,” said manager Christina Hallas. “With them playing, it will be even better.”

And Tommy Joe’s Restaurant in Bethesda is rooting for a win today for two reasons.

The bar and restaurant has had a bar mitzvah scheduled for today for more than a year, so it will be closed until 5 p.m. — 30 minutes after the game’s scheduled kickoff.

“We’re obviously hoping they win, and next weekend, then we’ll have a big blowout,” manager Pete McElroy said.

He couldn’t help but trash talk about the Buccaneers, a team that beat the Redskins, 36-35, earlier this season.

“I can’t imagine they’re not going to [win],” he said. “It’s Tampa Bay after all.”

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