“Generally, they’ll just get here super early, like three or four in the afternoon,” said Nick Heerschap, bar and floor manager at Spanky’s Restaurant and Bar.
“And then by game time, they’ll have nudged their way into their seats.”
Kristian Bawcom, owner of Four Corners, said superstitions are almost always visible during the NCAA tournament.
“I know a lot of the regulars that we have. They sit in the same seats every time, and if something goes wrong and they were moving around, they’ll hop back in the seat they were in before things went south,” he said.
To address the increase in business during the tournament, Heerschap said that Spanky’s takes reservations for the Final Four and National Championship games.
For fans who sit on the second floor, this means watching their Tar Heels play on a giant screen.
“For the Final Four, we’re going to do what we do every year: We rent a projector and set it up in this room,” Heerschap said.
Similarly, Linda’s Bar and Grill allows regular guests who have a lucky spot to reserve it in advance, said Chris Carini, owner and chef.
“For the big games, we have an online set-up — a Listserv — and basically what we do is we send out a couple hundred emails that say ‘This is what’s available,’ and then they can sign up for the amount of tickets we have for seats,” Carini said.
Once those with reservations are seated, Carini said they start seating whoever is standing at the door.
Guests are not the only fans who believe their traditions are what cause the Tar Heels’ shots to fall; employees have their own superstitions during March Madness, too.
Ewing said some waitresses at Sup Dogs will wear the same shirt or jersey for every game.
Other fans, though, must sometimes sacrifice wearing their favorite team gear in the name of winning.
“I’ve got this really nice long-sleeve Carolina shirt — I won’t wear it, because we’ve lost every time I have, so it’s going to just sit in my closet,” Bawcom said.
But though they’re united in support of the Tar Heels, some fans prefer to keep their traditions more to themselves.
As Sup Dogs gets more crowded, Ewing said it can be hard to notice individual customers’ superstitions.
“We can have about 200 people in here at one time, so particular traditions, like ordering a round of shots when we score, aren’t all that noticeable,” Ewing said.
For Bawcom, fans’ beliefs that they can affect the games with their behavior is part of what makes March Madness such a fun experience.
He noticed that as momentum swings during the Tar Heels’ games, some customers will respond by eating or drinking the same menu items to try and stay lucky.
“They usually drink the same things,” Bawcom said. “On Sunday, there were whole tables where everyone was drinking car bombs.”