While many Manhattan residents were stationed at their favorite bar in Aggieville last night, just over 20 miles away in Leonardville, the place to be was the Nelson’s Landing restaurant. The townspeople crowded in the restaurant to cheer on their hometown hero, Jordy Nelson, and watch him play in his first Super Bowl.
“It’s just an honor to have someone from our small community be in the NFL,” Chandra Ruthstrom, a Nelson’s Landing waitress and Leonardville resident, said. “He’s done such a great job.”
Nelson’s parents own the restaurant but were away in Dallas at the big game.
The community’s support was evident in the crowd at Nelson’s. The walls were covered in Nelson’s K-State jerseys and photos, and next to that was a budding collection of Nelson’s Packer’s photos and memorabilia. There were people of all ages, and friends and families at the restaurant to support Nelson in the big game.
“Usually on Sundays we have our regulars but it hasn’t been like this,” Tanna Richter, waitress at Nelson’s Landing and Clay Center resident, said. “I think it’s great because Nelson’s (Landing) has got so many more people since Jordy became more popular. In Leonardville and Clay Center and all the surrounding towns, everybody knows everybody; there’s a lot of fans around here.”
The noise level in the restaurant often reflected Nelson’s actions in the game. When he was off the field, it was quiet and people paid attention to any one of the six TVs over their food. But when Nelson was on the field, cell phones went unanswered and food was untouched while the customers whooped, yelled and threw their hands in the air. Then, when Nelson made his first touchdown in the first quarter of the game, the crowd roared. Waitresses jumped up and down. Kids cheered and high-fived with their parents. And the old men at the bar clapped proudly.
“(The support)’s fantastic,” Ruthstrom said. “(The restaurant) gets a lot of support with the community and I think it’s brought our community closer together.”
Richter said that the day after the Packers secured their spot in the Super Bowl by winning their playoff game, people were calling to make reservations for Super Bowl night.
“We’ve been taking reservations now for the past couple weeks and we were pretty much full as of a couple days ago,” Ruthstrom said.
Myrna Scardina, Randolph resident and frequent Nelson’s Landing customer, shared the communities feelings toward Nelson.
“Everybody loves Jordy and is just so excited for him,” Scardina said. “I think it’s great that this where he’s from, and all the support he gets from everyone through all the years.”
Scardina was at Nelson’s Landing on the Sunday of the winning playoff game and she described her feelings watching the game.
“The place was pretty rockin’ and it was fun,” Scardina said. “It’s so funny, usually you watch a game and you’re like, ‘Who are these people? Where do they come from?’ Now we know somebody and they’re just normal people. Just like everybody else.”