TAMPA, Fla. — The anticipation for Super Bowl LV wasn't just for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to pull off an epic historic win, but for fans to spend cash and, in turn, help pull struggling businesses out of a pandemic-induced free fall.
We are checking in with businesses in the hospitality industry about their gains even during the pandemic.
"I haven't slept since Friday," Roberto Torres, the owner of Blind Tiger Café, said.
Torres says businesses across Tampa Bay had their fingers crossed the pandemic wouldn't hurt their bottom line. Thankfully, that didn't happen.
"Nobody wanted to jinx it. I think that nobody understands how big the impact the economic impact on the game is going to have in a ripple effect for Tampa forever," Torres said.
Torres said his location at Sparkman Wharf was up 300% for sales on Saturday in the heart of the action.
Across town in Hyde Park, Joe Collier, the President of Mainsail Lodging and Development, who owns and operates the Epicurean hotel, said they were full capacity. A sold-out weekend hasn't happened in a very long time.
"The entire week was busy," Collier said. "It was a great week for us. But, yeah, the energy was fantastic, everybody. Aside from the Bucs winning the super bowl, the economic side of it was great."
Collier said people seeing Tampa on the world stage gave the city a marketing boost that can't be beat.
"There is the direct economic benefit, and then there are all of the people focusing on your town and seeing what you can do," Collier said. "I really hope we do a boat parade or something to give us another reason to showcase Tampa and show our waterfront and get people thinking about Tampa. When they see Tom Brady out on his boat, that makes people think I want to live in that place."
Food trucks are also cashing in.
Part owner of Mr. B's Southern Cuisine, Calvin Jefferson, said he had to hire more people to keep up with demand. Jefferson's food truck was an official vendor for the NFL at the Super Bowl Experience at Julian B. Lane Park.
"Of course, it gave us the boost," Jefferson said. "Listen, I'm still pinching myself because I'm like, wow, this is truly truly a great opportunity to be a part of our restaurant and feeding some of the hungry individuals that came into Tampa."
Even with the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, Jefferson said the future is brighter than ever.
"We are full steam ahead, so this is just the beginning. We are already making plans to get our second food truck up. It's just coming off the assembly line," Jefferson said.
Where do we go from here? Collier said the city is going to ride this win for as long as we can.
"I think Tampa is going to milk this for a while," Collier said. "I think we'll get a week, and then we'll have the boat parade then I think until next season, and if Brady and Gronk and all those guys come back, I think the excitement for next year will be even stronger."