- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Duke Blue Devils weren’t the only ones to score big in the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament over the weekend.

Local bars and restaurants reported a surge in business, following a slow start on Thursday, as a result of hordes of college basketball fans who descended on Washington to watch the 11 teams.

“We saw probably about a double of our normal crowd,” said Richard Tamulewicz, assistant general manager of the District ChopHouse & Brewery, next door to the MCI Center where the four-day tournament was held.

This was the first time in 18 years that the ACC tournament was held in Washington.

The restaurant, which began preparing for the tournament a month ago, opened an hour early Thursday and Friday and three hours early Saturday and Sunday to accommodate the large crowds, Mr. Tamulewicz said. The restaurant also had at least 10 extra persons working every shift.

“We knew the business was coming our way so we didn’t mind overstaffing at all,” Mr. Tamulewicz said.

The Old Ebbitt Grill on 15th Street NW had to make extra Bloody Mary mix in the morning, according to General Manager Kyle Gaffney, who described the fans as “more of a drinking fun crowd.”

“We definitely went through our share of bourbon over the weekend,” Mr. Gaffney said.

Many fans took advantage of the restaurant’s late closing time — the kitchen is open until 1 a.m.and came in for late dinners after the night games, he said.

The restaurant did not open early during the four days, but its bars — which normally open at 11 a.m. — were ready to serve customers by 9 a.m.

The tournament also brought an influx of business to bars on Capitol Hill, managers said.

Colin Laverty, manager and co-owner of the Pour House on Pennsylvania Avenue, said he saw many Maryland and Virginia Tech fans over the weekend.

The bar, which has 35 televisions throughout its three floors. opened early Thursday and Friday and sold $8 pitchers of light beer and $5 orders of chicken wings, he said.

The Hawk ‘n’ Dove’s Capitol Hill location didn’t hinder its ability to attract basketball fans, according to General Manager Paul Meagher. “We had a very good weekend,” he said.

Friday night was especially busy, he said, and would have been busier had Clemson University not defeated the University of Maryland the previous day.

“We were just jammed to the rafters,” he said. “If Maryland had stayed in a little longer, I think we would have been a little bit busier.”

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