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'Once-in-a-lifetime': UNC students stake out for spots to watch Final Four game

“So before it even hit 12:01, we lost the table.”


Will Palazzolo and Anders Hartmark were two of many North Carolina men's basketball fans who camped outside of Sup Dogs into the morning of Wednesday, March 30, 2022 to secure a reservation for the Final Four game. Photo courtesy of Will Palazzolo.

On Wednesday morning, a line of people wrapped around the Starbucks on Franklin Street — all waiting to reserve a table at Sup Dogs.

Some of them had been camping out by the restaurant starting Tuesday night in hopes of securing a spot to watch UNC's Final Four matchup against Duke on Saturday.

Sup Dogs began taking reservations at 10:30 a.m. and ran out of tables that same morning.

“People were lined up starting (Tuesday) night at dinner,” Bret Oliverio, owner of the restaurant, said. “They brought tents and sleeping bags.”

Like Sup Dogs, many bars and restaurants on Franklin Street are only seating people with reservations the night of the UNC-Duke game, anticipating high demand for tables.

At Sup Dogs, reservations cost $30 per seat per table. In addition, there was a $40 minimum spend per person.

The reservations last until "UNC BEATS DUKE and we rush Franklin Street," the restaurant said in its announcement.

“We wanted to do reservations in-person to give UNC students the first crack at getting a table rather than alumni or UNC fans from out of town,” Oliverio said.

UNC junior Will Palazzolo and his roommates had originally not planned to go to Sup Dogs until Wednesday morning.

But, when they heard people were already camping out at the restaurant, the decision wasn't a hard one to make.

“We were like, ‘You know what? Let’s just do it,’” Palazzolo said. “So, we got some snacks and drove down.”

Palazzolo brought a tent with three pillows, a blanket, a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad in tow. Others in line slept on chairs outside.

In the end, Palazzolo's group was able to make a reservation.

Despite the guidelines Sup Dogs had created for reservations, Oliverio said people were willing to offer more.

“I had a guy email me an offer of $1,000 to save him a table because he wasn’t local,” Oliverio said. “But in the spirit of being fair, I turned it down.”

The competition for reservations was carried throughout restaurants near UNC's campus.

Graduate student Lauren Bates and her fiancé tried to make an online reservation at Top of the Hill on Monday. At the restaurant, which sits just above the intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets, reservations for a table of four were $160 and reservations for a table of six were $240.

“We logged on to the website right at noon, and we had a table in our cart, but we didn't type in our credit card information fast enough,” Bates said. “So before it even hit 12:01, we lost the table.”

After being unable to get a table at Top of the Hill, Bates called Linda’s Bar and Grill, Four Corners Grille and Carolina Brewery, only to find that none of them took reservations over the phone.

In the end, she was able to reserve a table at Italian Pizzeria III with a group of fellow doctoral students. The table was $155.

Bates said while the short notice from restaurants was frustrating while trying to make a reservation, she recognized the difficulty in navigating an event like Saturday's historic Final Four matchup.

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“I'm sure that they're all just trying to do their best,” she said. “But it's definitely stressful being a student trying to get a table in this town this week.”

Oliverio said he is excited for Sup Dogs to be a part of a memorable college experience.

“I don’t think anything’s bigger than Duke versus UNC for a trip to the national championship,” he said. “Watching the game and storming Franklin Street — it’s a once-in-a-lifetime college memory.”


@DTHCityState |

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