by Jacque DeWitt
Lansing Township News Staff Writer
March Madness had Lansing restaurants full, customers cheering and sales high.
It’s no secret that sports bars see a rise in customers during basketball games, but March Madness turns a normally good turnout into a great turnout. Michigan State’s success in the NCAA competition was a boost to local bars.
Emily Lentz, a manager and bartender at Tripper’s Sports Bar, saud that March Madness is one of the busiest times of the year for them.
“We’re packed,” said Lentz. “We get a variety of regulars and new customers. The busiest we get is on the first couple days, because the games start earlier. So we have people coming in before noon to watch the games, ordering food and alcohol.”
Lentz talked about the role that Michigan State and Michigan play into the number of customers Tripper’s gets.
“The Big Ten tournament kind of jump-starts the rise of customers,” said Lentz. “When Michigan State or Michigan plays, more often than not, we can’t hear ourselves think. The farther they go in the tournament, the better chance there is that we will be full.”
With an increase in the amount of customers, Tripper’s sales for food and drinks skyrocket. Tripper’s offered $3 Blue Moon drafts, Johnny Vegas and Captain and Coke drinks on Fridays.
“Our sales doubled to tripled,” said Lentz. “I was bar-tending the first day of the tournament, and I was running around the entire time getting drinks, and there were two other bar-tenders working. We sold a lot more alcohol than normal. I can’t tell you how many Blue Moons I sold alone.”
Kourtney Hannan, a bartender at Chammps Americana said that March Madness was good for the restaurant.
“A lot of regulars came in,” said Hannan. “I worked during all the games. When Michigan State or Michigan were playing, it was unbelievably busy.”
She said the Final Four was the busiest. “Even though it would’ve been nice to see MSU go farther, we were the busiest on the Saturday of the Final Four,” she said. “We were selling these collectible Labbatt Blue cups as a special during the game. Everyone wanted to keep the cups and at the end of the first night of the tournament, I had $1800 dollars in sales, which is double what my sales are normally. The atmosphere was great and people were happy for the most part.”
Tiara Marocco, a server at Champps Americana loved working during the games, describing the experience as enjoyable.
“People were a lot friendlier,” said Marocco. “I made a lot of money and had fun while I was doing it. Normally working during sports is fun, but March Madness is the best time to work because you get to see all of the MSU fans come in and support their team. I thought it was cool to see fans of other schools that weren’t from the state, too, like Kentucky and Duke.”
Although bars can tend to get a little rowdy, Lentz stressed that this wasn’t the case this year.
“We didn’t have any fights,” said Lentz. “We didn’t have to escort anybody out. Nobody walked out without paying after their team lost. When Michigan State lost to UCONN, we were prepared to handle all three possibilities. Luckily, everyone was a good sport and we didn’t have any problems.”
Michigan State made it to the Elite Eight, eventually falling to the University of Connecticut 60-54.