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Restaurants, entertainment district gear up for Bills opener in L.A.

Even though staffing shortages have impacted the hospitality industry, restaurants are preparing for a busy Bills opener in the City of Angels.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With Bills fans having to wait only a week to see Josh Allen and the rest of the roster hit the field, restaurants and the entertainment district in Buffalo are getting ready for big turnouts. 

Several clubs and restaurants on Chippewa Street in downtown Buffalo are gearing up for a block party that could bring out thousands of fans. 

"To kind of take the gloves off and just open up the gates, and kind of let everybody come out and have fun, it's obviously a huge opportunity," said Chris Ring, partner at Rec Room and one of the organizers of the block party on Chippewa. "All the businesses are looking forward to the additional business that we're going to get off these."

This year the block party has additional support. 

"We have partnered with the Bills," Ring said. "So we are going to have Billy the Buffalo coming down for a halftime appearance, we're giving away a pair of tickets to the Bills home opener."

The prime-time Bills-Rams game, which will be seen on WGRZ, is expected to bring in crowds to neighborhood bars and restaurants as well. For some this will be the first restriction-free season of Bills business.

"There are no restrictions. We can pack this place in three layers deep to cheer for our Buffalo Bills," said Michael O'Conner, co-owner of Mike and Pop's in Kenmore. 

Mike and Pop's opened in 2021, the height of the COVID pandemic, and the neighborhood tavern hasn't experienced restriction-free Bills games yet. 

Being a pandemic business, they've had a lot thrown at them at the bistro: supply chain issues, restrictions, inflation. The father-and-son duo isn't immune to the latest issue in the food industry, staff shortages. 

"It has been tough," Mike "Pop" O'Conner said. "We just lost like five cooks two months ago."

Some of those employees came back because Mike and Pop's provided better compensation.

"It is a very, very difficult thing," Pop said. 

For now, Mike and Pop's has staff ready and eager for the Sept. 8 kickoff. 

"It's a neighborhood spot," Michael said. "So the people if people are walking by, and they see that we're jamming up to the bills, they'll definitely come on in."

As for the block party on Chippewa, general admission tickets are $10, VIP are $20. There will be two large LED monitors streaming the pre-game and game and doors open at 5 p.m.

You can learn more and purchase tickets here


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