Fans find friends in football fun


POSTED: Monday, February 08, 2010

Jan Kubelsky of Indianapolis didn't have any trouble finding new friends to watch the Super Bowl with yesterday at Aloha Tower.

Decked out in her Colts fan gear, she drew the attention of David Tataipu and his brother Lima and friend Sali Tui.

“;I was on the street walking, and they hollered at me,”; she said. “;They said they'd be here.”;

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So she joined them at Hooters, one of many bars and restaurants where friends—old and new—gathered to watch Super Bowl XLIV, bringing a welcome surge of business to local watering holes.

But some said the turnout was diminished by the recession and the loss of the Pro Bowl, which left Honolulu this year for the first time in 31 years.

At Don Ho's Island Grill, the crowd was mainly a group of Japanese tourists seemingly oblivious to the TVs.

“;I don't even know if they know what that (the Super Bowl) is,”; said server Michalene Hanawahine. “;There's just a couple people watching.”;

Hanawahine said business was slower than usual for the championship game and surmised fans were saving money by staying home to watch the game.

But manager Bo Perez said the low turnout was the result of the Pro Bowl moving to Miami.

When the Pro Bowl, typically played a week after the Super Bowl, was played here, “;We're talking about busy,”; Perez said.

That's because Pro Bowl players and fans would arrive well in advance, so their stay coincided with the Super Bowl.

“;The Pro Bowl kind of set us up for the Super Bowl,”; he said. “;They would have been here already, the teams that didn't make it to the Super Bowl.”;

The Pro Bowl will return to Aloha Stadium for the next two years.

Fans, however, still packed into Hooters a few steps away.

“;Every Super Bowl is like a party,”; said David Hart, the general manager, who added the restaurant was raffling items such as a TV. “;It's not just a game.”;

Super Bowl Sunday is the largest day of sales for Hooters, according to the chain, which was donating its fourth-quarter sales to the Haiti relief effort.

Kevin Lohman of Mililani watched the game with his friends from the Aloha Hash House Harriers, a running group that claims to be made up of “;drinkers with a running problem.”;

Lohman and friends passed around a bag that held a pool of money for whomever was holding it when someone scored. The friends each put in a dollar and passed the bag every play.

“;It kind of makes it more interesting,”; said Laura Ramos, of Pearl City. “;You have to pay attention to the game.”;

Kubelsky, who come to Hawaii aboard the Golden Princess on a 14-day cruise, was covered in home team gear, including a blue Peyton Manning jersey along with a Colts pin, jewelry, beads and face tattoos.

While her friends from the mainland were touring Honolulu, Kubelsky watched the game with Tataipu, who is also owner of Manoa International Bar & Grill at Manoa Marketplace.

Tataipu said he wanted to watch the game at Hooters because of the open-air seating and chicken wings.

“;We're just here for the game and the chicken,”; he said.

Tataipu rooted for the underdogs, the Saints, joking that “;if she wins, we throw her in the water.”;

Perhaps lucky for Kubelsky, the Saints beat the Colts 31-17, their first championship in history.