By Tamar Davis
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter
OKEMOS — March in Okemos can be a month full of gifts. Traffic is heavy, bars can be crowded, floors are sticky from beer being wasted, all because of March Madness.
March Madness is the month students, alums and townspeople alike represent their school with pride. This is the time for fans travel to their favorite bar, buy a cold beverage, alongside a nice light meal and cheer for their favorite college basketball team to win as many games possible.
Owner of Buddies Pub and Grill Terry Lynn explained why March Madness is so important for the people of the community and her business.
“March Madness is extremely beneficial to our business, not only in sales but just in general,” said Lynn. “The tournament brings out so many people. We look forward to March Madness because sometimes we hope that it can get us through the dry times we endure during pre March Madness. March Madness carries a lot of weight, majority of the time we are packed from wall-to-wall.”
According to the National Restaurant Association, in the year 2015, 20 percent of consumers are likely to watch college basketball at a restaurant or bar.
Buddies Pub and Grill bartender Erin Wibert explains the difference in sales during March Madness and the difference in sales with or without Michigan State University participating.
“We see in increase in sales for both food and alcohol,” said Wibert. “Even with Michigan State being out of the picture early, we still get many customers to come and watch the games. We would most definitely see more customers if Michigan State was still in the tournament. The further they go, the more sales we make, and more beneficial March Madness is to our business.”
According to restaurantbusinessonline, happy hours are going on all week long. About half the survey respondents said they now offer some sort of specials between Friday and Sunday, 55 percent of the respondents had featured a happy hour during the prior 12 months, and 17 percent said the offer of drink deals for a limited time is still their most effective promotion during the month of March Madness.
Dusty’s Tap Room bartender Aaron Kik and Dusty’s Cellar manager Bill Shreck, explains why March Madness is one of the best time for a bar.
“I think its very beneficial for our business because there aren’t that many places around for a combination of a game and a bar,” said Shreck. “Many people come here and watch games, here at Dusty’s we have a restaurant area and then a bar area, and most people who come for the games tend to visit the bar because those are where all the TV’s are located.”
According to USA Today, total TV ad revenue for the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s men’s basketball tournament surpassed $1 billion for the first time in 2012, making it larger than any professional post-season sports championship.
“We have an increase in everything when MSU plays in March Madness,” said Kik. “The biggest increase is seen in beverages and alcohol sales, beer is number one. We are packed to the capacity during March Madness in our bar area, sometimes it gets so crowded that our patio gets to maximum capacity.”
With Dusty’s Cellar & Tap Room and Buddies Pub and Grill both being very close to East Lansing, they have a great advantage on other bars because of the talented home team they have, Michigan State. According to restaurant.org, with a good home team playing in March Madness, bars have the advantage to drive sales.