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At local pizza shops, hometown pride takes precedence over Super Bowl profits

The Newport Pizza Company is among several places in the Cincinnati area closing early for the Super Bowl.
Jolene Almendarez
The Newport Pizza Company is among several places in the Cincinnati area closing early for the Super Bowl.

More than 12.5 million pizzas are eaten on Super Bowl Sunday, according to the American Pizza Community, making it one of the busiest days of the year in the industry. Local pizza shops are getting ready for the big day, preparing more dough, sauce, and hot wings for Sunday.

Newport Pizza Company is one such shop preparing extra this year as the Cincinnati Bengals take on the L.A. Rams in the Super Bowl.

"We try to over-prepare," says General Manager Adam Weeden. "So we bring in extra delivery drivers, I got extra cooks coming in. Typical day, I've got two [or] three tops, cooks, during the day. I have four scheduled this Sunday. I have typically either one driver or manager taking deliveries here and there during the day. But we got two scheduled drivers and a manager."

He says pepperoni, supreme-style pizzas, and their Cincinnatus pizza (a chili-based pizza that's a play on the city's famous chili) are the most popular orders they're preparing for.

But despite the big money-making day, the Newport Pizza Company joins many restaurants closing early for the big game. They'll be open until just before kickoff so employees can get off work in time to enjoy the game.

"Since it's the home team, you know, everybody here is a sports fan," he said. "So the boss decided — the owner decided — to give us the opportunity [to leave early]. We'll be open all the way up until 5:45, so just before the game starts, so all of us will be able to get out of here."

The local pizza shop isn't the only one closing early for the game. Cincinnati-based chain LaRosa's Pizzeria is closing at 6 p.m. at many locations. Locally owned Fireside Pizza in Walnut Hills is closing altogether.

"We're all pretty big Bengals fans at the restaurant," Fireside owner Sam Dobrozsi said. "Myself, I'm probably the biggest Bengals fan I know."

He says his restaurant does pretty well during games and the restaurant rolled out a Joe Burrow-inspired spicy jambalaya pizza during playoffs. But he decided the Super Bowl should be family time for his employees.

"I watched the AFC Championship game with my folks. I just thought that there is no way I'm working on the Super Bowl; there is no way I'm going to ask anybody to work on the Super Bowl, and I hope all of them get to hang out with their folks or their friends or, I mean, maybe some of my employees want to go hang out at a bar, they can do that," Dobrozsi said. "But it's not gonna be my bar. My bar is gonna be closed that day."

The Bengals take on the L.A. Rams at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in their first Super Bowl appearance since 1989.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.