Forget the years of practice in heat and cold required of an athlete to make the Super Bowl. In Akron, all you need is a good television, a couch, some friends and a bucket of food.
And if football makes you think of chicken wings, there’s a good chance you waddle into Kenmore’s 16th Street residential area and start clucking about Showcase Meats’ speciality.
For Robin Blaurock and Renee Campbell, game day means getting up early, firing up the fryer and cooking chicken all day. It takes 13 minutes for each batch.
“We open at 9 [a.m.] and this place will be prepping all day getting ready for the rush,” Blaurock said.
That rush started around 4 p.m. Sunday and ran until the 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
A normal day might include six employees but Super Bowl Sunday calls for 10. The store also had specials just for the day designed to feed a house full of people. The deals include sides like jojos, pizza, subs and maybe even a salad for any vegetarian who stops by to nibble.
Showcase takes orders for days before a big event because the rush can resemble the NFL’s old Purple People Eaters. A disappointed customer who wanted to order on the spot was turned away Sunday. “There’s other chicken in the world,” he said as he got into his car.
Showcase has almost no parking, so customers line up on curbs in front of neighboring houses. Blaurock said some complain of walking blocks to get there.
Most customers call in orders days before. If you haven’t ordered by 4 p.m., the wait might be long.
Food and predictions
Toni Teague of Akron showed up more than two hours early to fuel her first Super Bowl party at her house.
“Just doing something special with my fiance,” she explained, pointing to Alonzo Morton nearby.
Then she made a gaffe when trying to contradict Morton’s prediction of a Broncos win.
“I think Peyton’s gonna pull it off,” Morton said referring to Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
“Well, our home is decorated in Seattle Patriots,” Teague said, forgetting that town has the Seahawks.
“See, she don’t even know what she’s saying,” Morton said.
Inside the store, Blaurock said Super Bowl Sunday can mean $6,000 in receipts, twice the rate of a normal Sunday. But after 43 years at the same location, her customers know what to expect in the way of chicken and she knows what to expect as far as business.
Her father, Allen Perry, started the meat store in 1973 and saw it evolve. They still sell fresh meat, but it’s the cooked food, particularly the chicken, that keeps customers driving off the beaten path to their small store.
“You gotta go with what you know and meat’s what I know,” Perry said.
But Blaurock said it’s more complicated than that.
“I think it’s the care,” she said of the business’s popularity. “You care about your business. A lot of businesses, you get a lot of employees that don’t have the heart, making sure that everyone is happy. I think there is a different level of customer service with a family business.”
Of course, by the time you read this, the game will be over and Browns fans will be hoping for a good draft where coaches will be looking for men who can lead them to the promised land (probably not New Jersey again anytime soon).
Blaurock is looking forward to that day, too. She is a Browns fan who rarely gets to see the games. She’s busy cooking chicken, etc., on Sundays.
So even if the Browns play their first game in February, Blaurock probably won’t see it live, preferring to salt jojos and cut pizza.
“Oh, gosh. We’ll be celebrating,” she said. “We’ll probably have the best specials we ever had!”
Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Scott on Twitter at Davescottofakro.