Local restaurants reminisce Mason’s trip to Final Four

As the NCAA Tournament gets underway this week and eighth seed Mason is set to play Villanova Friday night, it’s not just fans remembering the Patriots’ improbable 2006 journey to the NCAA Final Four. Local businesses recall the attention brought to the community as the previously unknown Patriots cast the area into the spotlight.

That attention meant packed sports bars at the restaurants near campus – something the wait staff and managers still haven’t forgotten.

Buffalo Wing University assistant manager, Thomas Calvert, said having Mason in the Final Four created an everlasting impression on his employees.

“We are normally busy on the weekends, but it was insane during the tournament,” Calvert said.  “There was a minimum wait of one hour, and it was common to see a line of patrons stretched around the corner outside.”

Mason basketball fans that packed the venues for the games brought in an extra $80,000 in sales during the month of March 2006.

Brion’s Grille former manager, Rick Burnett, said business was great for their restaurant too. The games brought in local news coverage from both the ABC and CBS affiliates as they reported on the crowded restaurant.

“We were over packed for every Mason basketball game,” Burnett said. “There was not an empty seat in the house.”

The Auld Shebeen co-owner, Dominic Keane, said that Mason even made a huge impact on his Fairfax City pub.

“March madness is usually about St Patrick's Day for an Irish Pub & Restaurant, but it took on a new meaning for The Auld Shebeen that year,” Keane said. “Every Mason game was a packed house with supporters in their green & yellow, and a lot of people had gotten special shirts made.”

For the final four game with Florida, The Auld Shebeen rented two 10 ft screens and had a full house the entire day.

Keane said, “Mason will have the luck of the Irish with them if they make it through to the Final Four again this season.”

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