UNC wins, bars cash in
When the UNC basketball team faces off against Boston College tonight, many students and residents will flock to Franklin Street bars to watch the away game.
For Chapel Hill bar owners, there will be more at stake than a win or loss tacked onto UNC’s record.
Not surprisingly, restaurant owners and bartenders say most bars have a larger turnout on game days — and that a Tar Heel win or loss can affect beer sales very differently.
“Anytime there is a game, people come. Depending on how well the game went shows whether or not people will stay,” said Jonathan Austin, a bartender at Carolina Brewery.
“Quite naturally, if there are more people, there are more alcohol sales, but especially on game days.”
And other Franklin Street bar employees echoed this trend.
Steven Torchio, a manager at Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery, said he has noticed a difference in turnout on winning game nights.
“When the team wins, people want to go out and celebrate more,” he said.
Scott Maitland, proprietor of Top of the Hill, has also seen the trend.
“I have always believed that a win in a big game on the weekend in late afternoon or evening results in 20 percent more sales across the board,” he said.
Win Bassett, executive director of the North Carolina Brewers Guild, said more people are willing to celebrate after a win than after a loss.
“Beer sales always go up a little after a win,” he said.
Kristian Bawcom, owner of the Grille at Four Corners, said his bar also benefits when the Tar Heels pull through.
“We’re full regardless, but if they win, people wind up drinking more and staying longer,” he said.
Increased beer sales following a UNC win can also be seen at smaller, more intimate Franklin Street bars such as Linda’s Bar and Grill.
Howard Shelburne, a bartender at Linda’s, said there is an increase in customers both before and during a game, and especially after the team wins.
“When we see a win, we see better numbers than if we lose,” Shelburne said.
He said he believes the celebratory atmosphere during a winning game may contribute to higher beer sales.
“Everyone is watching one of the four TVs, eyes glued to the projection. The crowd gets into it, cheering and celebrating,” Shelburne said.
“There is a group mentality — no feeling of separate tables. Everyone is just one big collective group.”
Shelburne said football and basketball affect student turnout and beer sales the most.
And more competitive games usually bring out a larger crowd.
At Linda’s, the number of customers during the UNC-Duke game is unlike any other event, Shelburne said.
Bars also see large sales during the NCAA Tournament in March.
“The tournament kicks off at noon, and we’ll be full,” Bawcom said.
Shelburne said March Madness is a good way to wind down the school year.
“This is obviously basketball country,” Shelburne said. “March is one of our better months of the year.”
But some UNC students’ habits don’t align with the overall trend.
UNC student Taylor Brundage said that, although she is more likely to go out to a bar on a game day, she normally drinks the same amount whether or not the Tar Heels win.
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