On any other day Pluckers is buzzing, but on Sunday, the doors opened and hoards of fans swarmed through the entrance. Every year before the Super Bowl begins the team says a few words in an attempt to stay calm as they prepare to head to war. They have to get their heads in the game. There can be no mistakes or second chances. It’s Super Bowl Sunday at Pluckers, and the stakes have never been higher.
“The time during the Super Bowl is definitely the craziest time of the year. During those five or so hours, Pluckers does more business than any other day of the year,“ Raven Chastain, a server for a year and a half and a fifth-year nutritional science student at UT, explained.
Preparing to serve hundreds of people in the span of a mere five hours, Pluckers braces itself for the tide of game-day fanatics by making subtle changes. Super Bowl Sunday is the only day of the year where Pluckers allows for five-dollar reservations. There is another cashier set up for the massive influx of to-go orders and pick-ups. Braving the masses, the cashier becomes in charge of handling business with anyone and everyone craving chicken. This position takes a special type of mental fortitude and preparation.
“We’re ready to go and we are just waiting. You know it’s going to happen, but you don’t know exactly when,” Munson Stodder, the general manager for Pluckers on Rio Grande Street, explained. “It’s just going to turn on. The doors are going to get blown off and you have to go. At that point in time everyone knows their job and they know what they have to do.”
The team warms up to take the floor anxiously awaiting the swarm of overly invested fans. Like he does on every other day, Munson will remind the team to stay focused and keep calm during Super Bowl festivities.
Munson planned a few choice words to keep his employees motivated. “Just be ready to have a good time. Be ready for the butt-kicking. You’re going to love it, but it’s going to be a big one,” Munson said. “The people who work the hardest jobs actually request to work that day because it’s a test to see if they can still do it. There’s no busier day for the number of hours.”
With televisions blaring score updates, customers demanding more ranch and rivalries heating up, the Pluckers team has to remain in control.
“A lot of different fans will jaw at each other. You just have to make sure it stays good-hearted joking and nothing serious. It’s very easy to walk up to someone and tell them to clam down. They calm down pretty quickly when I do it,” Munson said.
The workday begins early at around eight, but the mental strain can be felt days before. Team members are advised to stay hydrated, eat well and come rested.
“On big games, we have been known to have a tunnel on the outside. Everyone’s lined up and we do the tunnel. People have to run through the tunnel,” Munson said. “I have a spirit sign, a slap sign like college teams use when they leave the locker room. The sign I have says ‘Care. Work hard. Have fun.’”
Choosing favorites and keeping score, the staff has their own bets and predictions. Keeping a scorecard in the back, team members enjoy their own Super Bowl Sunday. But with hundreds of rowdy chicken-hungry fans demanding instant wings, there has to be a game plan. Planning days in advance the team strategizes on how best to tackle the sheer quantity of chicken needed.
“On a typical day like this we will go through well over a ton of chicken wings plus another thousand pounds of our boneless wings. We’ll go through a couple hundred gallons of sauce on a day like this,” Munson said. “Those numbers add up to two or three thousand pounds of chicken.”
When it comes to cooking a ton of chicken, the key is speed. There can be no hesitation. No fear.
“That day, it was really just a speed component. It’s a never-ending cycle. It’s constantly building the speed as the day goes on. The Super Bowl kicks off and it just gets crazier and crazier,” Dick Clark, a cook for over a year, explained. “It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a really tough day.”
The happiness of the anxious fans in the front of the house is largely dependent on the efficiency of the kitchen. If things begin to slow down, it could cost Pluckers the advantage. Staff must constantly stay at the top of their game.
“The thing we always say is, ‘It’s wings and beer,’” Munson said. “It always puts them back in the right mood, and they realize they were freaking out about something that wasn’t necessary. It’s just wings and beer.”
Published on February 4, 2013 as "Pluckers prepares for big game".