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Outdoor Bills watch parties to return to Chippewa Street this Sunday

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Two establishments within Buffalo's Chippewa District have the go-ahead to host outdoor "Party on the Patio" events during Sunday evening's AFC Championship game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.

Soho Buffalo and the Rec Room have been given permits to hold outdoor events. Soho owner Jay Manno says a similar event two weeks ago went well, with patrons respecting guidelines including distancing. Still, he has added security for Sunday's game. He adds that his business actively makes sure those in attendance continue to follow guidelines, especially when the game gets exciting.

If you see a touchdown or, you know, we're in scoring range, we make an announcement saying ‘hey, you know, celebrate but keep your mask on, stay at your table, no jumping up and down, running from table to table,’" Manno said.

Under the state's COVID-related yellow zone rules, bars and restaurants must close at 10 a.m. Manno explained they will close out all tabs beginning around 9:30 p.m. and will be breaking down tables shortly after that. Sunday's Bills-Chiefs game is scheduled to kick off around 6:40 p.m.

To ensure proper social distancing, attendance is by reservation only. As of Friday afternoon some spaces were still available. For more information, text (716) 939-1279 or email reservations@recroombuffalo.com.

Participating business owners credit the public for good behavior at the previous event. They welcome a chance to host again during a time when bars and restaurants struggle to survive.

From an economic development standpoint, which is something else the Alliance focuses on, it made all the sense in the world,” said Rachel DeDomenico, president of the Chippewa Alliance. “They're able to bring back employees. They're able to bring down some money for the businesses that are suffering, you know, get people down here again in a safe way, in a fun environment to celebrate our Bills.”

Buffalo Police officials credit the establishments for the level of security they provided during the previous outdoor watching event two weeks ago. Police will still have a presence. They also anticipate that if the Bills win, many will want to come outside and congregate to celebrate what would be the team's first trip to the Super Bowl since 1994.

We’ll handle those situations as they come up,” said Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. “People are going to gather. We’re going to do our best to work with them and remind them to keep this responsible. This would be a happy celebration, this would be a happy event, so that's what we're looking for.”

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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