SINGAPORE - It was 7.30am on a Monday, but some restaurants and bars were already open for business for fans to catch the live screening of the biggest event in American sports - the Super Bowl Championship.
At least five restaurants and bars had started as early as 6am to offer breakfast classics like Eggs Benedict, washed down with coffee, tea or - despite the hour - beer.
Kick-off was at 7.30am in Singapore for the match between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, played in the MetLife stadium in New Jersey.
Over the years, this annual championship game of America's National Football League has become a draw at American chain restaurants such as Chili's and Dan Ryan's Chicago Grill, even for Singaporeans.
But the Chinese New Year holiday may have dampened this year's turnout, with some companies giving their workers yesterday off in lieu of the public holiday last Saturday.
At Dallas Restaurant and Bar in Boat Quay, the crowd numbered 80, down from last year's 110.
"We usually have a mix of American expatriates and locals who had studied in America and followed the sport there," said Dallas' assistant events manager Elizabeth Chia, 25.
She added that guests usually watch the game before heading to their offices nearby, so workers who had the day off may have watched it at home this year.
At Brewerkz in Riverside Point, where beer was going for the happy hour price of $5 a pint, about 650 mostly American expatriates watched the Seahawks' young quarterback Russell Wilson outmanoeuvre Broncos veteran Peyton Manning on 15 television screens indoors and outside.
The outlet's floor manager Benjamin Heng, 32, said the lower turnout this year made service more manageable. Some reservations had been made as early as a month before, he noted.
Currency trader Donny Lee, 29, who watched the match at Dallas yesterday morning, got hooked on the sport as a student in the United States. He said that being at a restaurant like Dallas "best replicated the experience" of watching it in America with other fans. "I used to discuss tactics with my school mates and I can't do that in Singapore because most people don't watch American football," he said.
Mr Lee was disappointed by the result. The Seahawks wiped the floor with the Broncos with a score of 43 to 8.
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