Local restaurants a hive of activity as Utah competes in NCAA Tournament

Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-21 23:55:39-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah men’s basketball team is going to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005.

Fans inside restaurants and bars across town celebrated as the clock struck zero.

“I'm excited! It's been a moment, and it's good to see them back," said Utes fan Eric Gonzalez.

"I'm not surprised, they looked great at the beginning of the season and I knew we were going to be good from the beginning of the season," said Utes fan Andrea.

"Utah always has something to prove, it seems like we never get the respect at least the fans here think we deserve,” said Utes fan Jared Wallace.

Fiddler’s Elbow became packed with fans in the final 30 minutes leading up to the game.

“Competing at this level is just great, to be back on the map: It’s really exciting, especially the Utes have been running train lately, and I want to keep that train running,” Cole Pollard said.

Another Sugar House restaurant, Trolley Wing Company, had fans ready to rock hours before the game.

“I’m so pumped, you know being a student at The U, it’s always fun to see people you know our own age going out and representing our state and our school,” Noelle Farr said.

TWC said it was standing room only for Thursday’s game, so they’ve been preparing all day for Saturday’s crowd.

“We had people waiting for seats, there wasn’t enough seats for them, so we decided to pump up this patio a little more, put a few TVs out here, two new 60-inch TVs, Direct TV was in here at 9 this morning and we’re ready to go,” said Jeff Krie, a bartender at TWC.

"I mean I'm out here on the patio with my buddies and my friends and my wife and drinking beers and having a good time it can't get better than this," said Brandon Barnes.

TWC said when the Utes are playing, their business usually doubles. They say the NCAA Tournament is a great way to introduce people to their wings.

“I mean our capacity is 90 and we got to get all the way up to 90,” Krie said.

For anyone who thinks cheering for the Utes is a local thing, you haven’t met Mike Jackson.

"I wouldn't of missed this game," he said. "I was up in Alaska and I had to fly home especially so I could watch this game today."