Browns fans reflect on team’s first loss, what it’s like watching games at bars now

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MENTOR, Ohio (WJW) — Even with a crushing loss for the Browns and a global pandemic, the Burnt River Browns Backers fan chapter in Mentor were happy to show out at a watch party for their team.

“We’re still as enthusiastic as we can be with what we’re dealing with,” said chapter President Bob Hostutler. “Every seat was reserved, when we walked in here today there wasn’t a seat to be had.”

The decision to still gather at Hooley House Sports Pub and Grille on Reynolds Rd, unlike in years past, was made only days before. 

“Last week, we weren’t, we weren’t sure if we were going to do anything or not,” he said.

The 208 member chapter, with more than 1400 on their mailing list, also decided to resume their annual fundraiser, raffling off a TV donated by the Mentor Fire Department and Sam’s Club to raise money for the Deepwood Foundation.

The non-profit that works to empower those with developmental disabilities presented the chapter and the fire department with plaques on Sunday. 

“They told us today that over the last 8 years we’ve raised 24,000,” said Hostutler.

That sense of community with the city and Browns fans, Hostutler says, is not dampened by the current safety precautions.

“It’s just a control that you learn to adapt to and if it’s going to protect myself or someone else, then it’s worth doing,” he said.

He’s even giving the team he loves a pass on the first game with the pandemic in mind.

“They didn’t get to practice like normal, there was no pre-season so you know, we’re just gonna give ‘em a bye on this one, because what else are we gonna do?” he said.

Hooley House added an extra safety feature in anticipation of game day.

“We want to try and take advantage of it as much as we can but still be safe, still keep the distancing. At our bar, we’ve gotten the plastic partitions so we were able to add a few more seats to the bar now that we’ve got them split up,” said General Manager Matt King.

He says they expected a full house and had to turn some people away but worked to make the day special for all of their customers.

“We’ve also been trying to gear some things towards take home with some different tailgate packages,” he said.

As for Thursday night’s game against the Bengals, with a statewide liquor cut off at 10 pm, King says, “We’re hoping it can be a quick game and it can keep moving so you know everybody can see the game.”

Short or not, fans still have hope. 

“I’m hoping over the next few days if they can get it together and come out and entertain us and give us a win,” he said.

And while the restaurant was fully booked and their customers respected the new changes, some things seem to still be consistent.

“Successful for us, but not for the Browns,” said King.

Hostutler agreeing, “Well, it’s the same old Browns.”

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