DeKALB – Area businesses are gearing up for the Orange Bowl match-up with a number of orange-related food and drink specials.
The staff at O'Leary's Restaurant and Pub, 260 E. Lincoln Highway, will be serving $3 drafts of Shock Top Belgian White, said owner Mel Witmer. He and his staff are very enthusiastic about the game.
"It's going to be a magnificent start to the first of the year," Witmer said.
The Northern Illinois Huskies will take part in their first BCS bowl game against the Florida State Seminoles. Around 1,300 NIU students arrived in Miami on Monday, thanks to a low-cost fan bus package the university organized for students.
Witmer encouraged those remaining to get together with other people to watch the game, as he said nothing is better than a group atmosphere.
"It's like a Super Bowl for NIU," Witmer said.
While O'Leary's is not completely full, Witmer said they are "aggressively taking reservations" – a lot of which are coming from people out-of-town. There will be plenty of standing room, but "not a lot of tables will be moving," he added.
Fatty's Pub and Grille, 1312 W. Lincoln Highway, will also be packed as the 7:30 p.m. kickoff approaches. Owner Jeff Dobie said 670 The Score, one of Chicago's sports radio shows, will be broadcasting at Fatty's from 3 to 7 p.m.
While not an official alumnus of NIU (he said he attended school here, and his wife is one), Dobie said he is very proud of NIU. He described it as being the perfect scenario as both an NIU fan and a local business owner.
"No matter how we got there...it's a great opportunity for the university and a great opportunity for the fans to see some big college football," Dobie said.
In addition to 670 The Score, a number of former NIU football players have reserved the backroom at Fatty's, and will giving out autographs, Dobie said. But Dobie is expecting the restaurant to be packed as well without the sports broadcasters and athletes.
Both Fatty's and O'Leary's will be giving out a select number of NIU Orange Bowl memorabilia.
At Pizza Pros, 1205 W. Lincoln Highway, people can chow down on 10-inch one-topping pizzas for $5 and 50-cent buffalo wings while watching the game, said owner Arthur Alberts. The deal applies to dine-in customers only. He's also offering a number of orange-related drink specials, including any orange liquor at $3.
P.J.'s Courthouse Tavern in Sycamore is breaking its tradition of being closed on New Year's Day, said owner John Schwartz. Schwartz said they will open at 4 p.m.
"We're hoping for a nice crowd and a Huskie victory," Schwartz said.
The bar will be open, but the kitchen won't be, he added. He wanted to give the staff a day off, so he will be ordering pizzas and appetizers. His establishment simply couldn't be closed for NIU's first Orange Bowl, he said. .
"I'd hate to miss that game," Schwartz said.