ELKHART — Kickoff time didn’t matter for bleary-eyed Notre Dame fans Saturday morning.
Bloody Marys, mimosas and biscuits and gravy replaced typical tailgating fare at Hunter’s Place as the Irish faithful gathered to watch the season opener against Navy.
Because Notre Dame played in Dublin, Ireland, the game aired at 9 a.m. locally.
Not that anyone at Hunter’s Place seemed to mind.
“We usually watch from home, but this one was special,” said Goshen resident Ron Berg, who sat with his wife, CJ.
Two dozen Notre Dame fans — and one very vocal Navy supporter — filled in booths and tables at Hunter’s Place to watch the Irish cruise past the Mids, 50-10.
Several area bars — such as Lakeshore Grille and Between the Buns — opened their doors early for the game.
Owner Frances Hunter said she had numerous customers asking about an early open time a couple weeks ago.
“So I said, ‘Sure, why not?’” Hunter recalled.
Hunter, a self-proclaimed Irish fan, said she always has Notre Dame games on during the season. Saturday, though, she had to make an unusual adjustment.
“I was looking at my clock thinking, ‘Gosh it’s about time to open,’” she said at halftime, which fell around 10:30 a.m.
The Bergs and other Notre Dame fans didn’t need a tailgate or typical kickoff time to show their enthusiasm.
When Notre Dame took the field, the bar clapped.
When Theo Riddick scored the first touchdown for the Irish, the bar cheered.
Waitresses bustled around with trays full of breakfast foods and glasses full of morning spirits.
“I’ve sold more Bloody Mary’s today than I’ve sold in five years,” Hunter laughed.
On a typical game day, Ron and CJ Berg can be found near the north end zone at Notre Dame Stadium, watching the team run out of the tunnel.
On Saturday, they donned their Irish jerseys and team t-shirts and cozied up in a booth at Hunter’s Place.
By halftime, the Bergs were pleased with the performance new quarterback Everett Golson.
“He’s doing good,” CJ said. “I’m quite impressed.”
By the game’s end, some patrons lounged around to chat with Hunter. Some left with smiles, chatting about Notre Dame’s 50-10 victory.
Judging by the turnout Saturday, Hunter is considering opening early for breakfast specials in the future.