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Most Local Restaurant Owners Excited About Looming College Football Season

Mask required at the Rose Bowl and indoors

Published on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 | 12:22 pm

When college football returns to the Rose Bowl on Saturday it could be an economic boon not just for the iconic stadium but also local restaurants and other businesses that have struggled during the pandemic.

First,  don’t forget your mask. 

Pasadena is currently experiencing high transmission of the COVID-19 and its Delta variant.

“With the new Pasadena Public Health order/mandates in place, masks will be required inside the Rose Bowl Stadium and for all events with over 10,000 attendees, regardless of vaccination status,” said Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian. 

“It’s a recommendation that people keep masks on unless actively eating/drinking in a stationary location such as while tailgating and in and event areas. These areas include the corporate tailgate and fan zone activities in area H,” Derderian said.

Despite the health order, restaurateurs said the game will definitely have a positive impact on revenue. 

“This will really affect us on Saturday, because last year we weren’t even open on the inside, so we got no business,” said Steban Aviles, manager of Slater’s 50/50 in Old Pasadena.

“It was like football season didn’t happen, the restaurant business didn’t happen, nothing was going on, so I expect a thousand percent increase this weekend,” said Aviles, noting this year the restaurant has reservations for pregame parties. 

“My whole staff is aware of the football season coming up. We are prepared and ready to take it on,” he said.

The UCLA Bruins will face the University of Hawaii’s Rainbow Warriors in the Rose Bowl at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The game is expected to attract tens of thousands of fans to Pasadena, which could lead to a major windfall for local restaurants and bars. 

This is the fourth contest between the two teams. UCLA. The Bruins have won all three previous matchups against Hawaii in 2017, 1939 and 1935. 

“We are excited and thrilled that our UCLA Bruins and fans will be coming back on Saturday,” said Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn. “The Rose Bowl Stadium is one of the most iconic stadiums in the country, and college football is at our core as a venue. We can’t wait for the season to begin.”

According to Michael Osborn, owner of Pie ’n Burger on California Boulevard, just east of South Lake Avenue, the games at the Rose Bowl definitely benefit local restaurants. 

“Obviously, it depends on who’s playing. That determines a lot in terms of the attendance at the game,” Osborn said. “But we certainly get a lot of customers here before and after the game, again, depending on the time of the game.”

Osborn said he expects the game after Hawaii between UCLA and the LSU Tigers at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 4 to be a huge game. 

“I would expect that to have a lot more impact on the revenue side,” Osborn said.

Jack Huang who owns SORRISO, Barcelona, and iX-tapa Cantina in Old Pasadena said although he sees a business increase depending on the opponent, the stadium is taking some of the business from local restaurants. 

“Over the years the impact from the Rose Bowl events are less and less significant. One of the reasons I believe is they also started their own events. For example, now concerts or football, they’re trying to get people to go down to the stadium. They have hospitality tents, they have food and trucks. They want people that come to the event to park there, spend money there before the event so they capture a lot of the traffic that used to park around Old Town area and drop some money here and then go to the event,” Huang said. 

They can invite 10 trucks, food trucks, and do a beer tent, and people will want to go down there earlier. They don’t have to fight for the traffic. They go down there early, they spend all their money. So over the years, I’ve seen less and less foot traffic before and after the event,

Huang said it is smart of the Rose Bowl to sell more food there, but he wishes Old Pasadena could draw more people before and after their Rose Bowl visit.

Saturday’s game marks a return to a regular college football schedule for the first time since the pandemic began. 

Last season, more than 100 games were canceled or postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks. This year, that won’t be the case. Teams will be forced to forfeit games if they cannot play due to COVID-19 issues.

A return to a normal college football schedule could also benefit other businesses in Pasadena. 

The city’s public health experts continue to battle the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, and millions of people remain unvaccinated.

Locally, 36 people are battling the virus at Huntington Hospital, 11 of them in intensive care.

County figures show that the vast majority of people hospitalized with COVID are not vaccinated. During July, vaccinated residents represented just 13% of people hospitalized with the virus.

According to the city Health Department, infection rates show that unvaccinated people are almost four times more likely to get infected with COVID-19 than those who have been inoculated. 

The case rate for unvaccinated individuals is 243 cases per 100,000 people, while the case rate for fully vaccinated people is 66 cases per 100,000 people.

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