Local restaurants ready for big business from Final Four

Staffs additionally excited to welcome back more customers as COVID cases remain low

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Local sports fans will be tuning in to watch the Final Four tomorrow, and this is exactly what many establishments in Chattanooga are expecting.

Not only are they excited to welcome in regulars and new customers alike to enjoy the games, but after what we’ve been through the past couple of years, they’re grateful for the chance to do so.

This year’s Final Four features four of the nation’s most historic basketball schools, but in 2020, it featured none.

Last year, the tournament was held, but with many COVID-19 regulations in place, it was hard to publically celebrate.

This year, Manager and Bartender McKenzie Felthoff of Five Wits Brewing Co. believes things will be different.

“This is definitely the first one that we’ve had where we’re [going] full force,” Felthoff said. “I think it’s going to be great because just the few games that have been going on, people come in here and they watch them.”

All throughout March, some managers, such as Taco Mac’s Kitchen Manager Patrick Hook, credited the tournament for driving in bigger crowds.

“Honestly, in the last three weeks, business has improved massively,” Hook said. “It really has.”

Hook added that Taco Mac even gave the interior a facelift in preparation for March Madness.

“Literally a week before March Madness, all the TVs went in,” Hook said. “About a week-and-a-half before, all the flooring got completely repaired, completely new audio system, everything. You get sports on every TV — that’s a great thing.”

At HiFi Clydes, Server Bryce Beamer and the staff have enjoyed this year’s tournament.

But this is bigger than sports.

What they’re really enjoying is seeing more locals begin to get out again after COVID kept them in.

“It’s awesome being able to go out without a mask on for once, being able to actually just go out, stay out longer,” Beamer said. “You forget what kind of social life you had. So the small things like going out and watching basketball for a night kind of seems like a big deal.”

While one school will soon be celebrating a championship, more in Chattanooga seem to be celebrating life getting somewhat back to normal.

“You get people in here who haven’t been out in six, seven months,” Hook said. “Seeing people out and seeing their faces without masks and things like that where they’re happy to be out, happy to be among the public — it’s big.”

“I actually had somebody in here today who said they haven’t been here in two years,” Felthoff said. “They came in, ate a bunch of food, drank a bunch of beers, they were just happy to finally feel comfortable to come out and do stuff. I feel like more and more people are feeling like that.”

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Local News