Sep 8, 2011 by Joe Vanhoose
Party trays make tailgating simple
By JOE VANHOOSE – firstname.lastname@example.org
Published Wednesday, September 07, 2011
It’s game week in Athens, which means Sanford Stadium and roads for miles around it soon will be filled with red and black.
http://images.morris.com/images/athens/mdControlled/cms/2011/09/06/882187137.jpg File / Staff || David DeGeorge of Milledgeville plays catch with a friend while tailgating at the University of Georgia before a game in 2006.
File / Staff
David DeGeorge of Milledgeville plays catch with a friend while tailgating at the University of Georgia before a game in 2006.
Georgia fans love their football, but many celebrate at parties before the games as much as at the games themselves. Tailgate gatherings are everywhere, and where there are tailgates, there is always food nearby.
But not everyone has a grill to fire up or time to prepare meals for dozens of people.
For those who want the snacks without the suffering that comes along with cooking, many Athens restaurants are ready to help.
To-go orders at different eateries can fulfill almost any taste. Some restaurants even count on gameday orders as part of their business plan.
Not every game — or every season — is equal, said Jamey Loftin, a co-founder of Locos Grill & Pub.
“It hurt me last year, financially, when we were getting beat and people were leaving games early or not even coming,” he said. “When we’re losing, we feel it.”
The early kick-off times hurt, too, he said. Chicken wings and sandwiches aren’t quite as appetizing for many people at 10 a.m.
“This year, we’ve got some better kick-off times,” Loftin said. “I think we’ve got a better team, too.”
Saturday’s game between the Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks kicks off at 4:30 p.m. Beforehand, many fans will get their fill on chicken wings and club sandwiches.
The wing trays are the most popular item, Loftin said. This year, his restaurants have added a roasted wing paired with a white barbecue sauce — the idea came from Alabama.
“We didn’t put Alabama on there, though,” he said. “It’s Alabama.”
A wing tray for 20 people costs $49.99. A club sandwich tray for the same-sized crowd, which often is served with a tub of pasta salad, will run $79.99.
“The sandwiches are good because one-quarter of it is a good handful,” Loftin said. “Chicken fingers are also really popular. You want something you can just grab and eat on the go.”
Few places have chicken covered like Chick-Fil-A. Matt Kirby’s Eastside location always sees a spike in sales on gamedays.
For the early games, the fast-food restaurant offers a tray filled with Chicken Minis, a bite-sized chicken biscuit concoction. Wrap and fruit trays also are popular, Kirby said, but the chicken nuggets outsell everything.
“They have the lion’s share for sure,” he said. “We like to think that they are the first thing that people grab off the table at tailgates.”
A 54-nugget tray costs $22, while it’s $40 for 120 and $64 for 200 — that’s enough nuggets to feed 25 people.
If fans are looking for the other white meat, they may consider a stop at Jot ’Em Down BBQ. The Macon Highway barbecue joint sends folks on their way with anywhere from 2 to 20 pounds of pulled pork along with cole slaw, baked beans, stew, white bread and sauce.
“We’ll do in-house and on site catering as well,” said Jot ’Em Down Manager Mike Strickland. “If customers give us a day or two notice, we can have a really big order ready to go when they get here.”
Jot ’Em Down sells pork at $9.75 per pound. About 5 pounds of pork will feed a crew of 15, depending on how many big eaters are in the group, Strickland said.
“You’ve got to know who you’re feeding,” he said. “The No. 1 rule is that you never want to not have enough.”