Downtown bar, shoe store see ‘phenomenal weekend’ at start of March Madness

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The best of basketball on Monday hit the hardwood for the final day of Round 2 of the all-Indiana NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Now, downtown is getting ready for another busy weekend as the Sweet 16 approaches.

Thousands of fans are coming to Indianapolis, which means money pouring in to local businesses.

“It is amazing just to pull up Downtown and there’s people walking around; the lots are full; there’s people here,” said Sara Etherington, the office manager at the Slippery Noodle bar.

Those fans have to eat, and people visited the Slippery Noodle just down the street from Lucas Oil Stadium, where two basketball courts are set up for play.

“It’s been so long. We have a lot of new people that we brought on right after we reopened from August from COVID. So, they hadn’t seen the bar like that ever. Some previous employees are coming back to help,” Etherington said.

Slippery Noodle saw about three times more business this past Saturday than a typical Saturday since they reopened in August.

“It is really amazing and, you know, to start getting back to feeling a little bit normal, or just even remember it,” Etherington said. “I think that people will remember, “‘Oh, that was a nice time over there. They had live music, a lot of staff on.’ Hopefully, they had a good experience while they were here and they come back.”

At Stout’s Footwear in the Mass Ave. Cultural District, store manager Sara Klimenko said, “This weekend was fantastic. It was great to see people out. We had a ton of tourists, families coming in from all over the country.

Klimenko said they probably doubled sales this weekend compared to a typical pandemic weekend. “It was a phenomenal weekend. It felt like a normal Saturday for us, pre-pandemic.”

“I think it’s pretty safe to say that this was probably our best weekend of 2021 so far.”

The staff at Stout’s loved it. Klimenko said, “It was great! We were kind of all excited and like ‘Woah! We haven’t felt this busy, we haven’t felt this stressed-out for a while!’ It was great. It was a great feeling.”