Mercer’s ‘amped up’ fans, local businesses ready for Sunday’s game

alopez@macon.comMarch 22, 2014 

Emmitt Pharr, 52, apologized for his voice late Friday. He had been yelling all day.

He arrived in Macon shortly before midnight in a caravan of six buses along with about 335 Mercer University students and supporters, back from the big game in Raleigh, N.C. Pharr had witnessed first-hand The Mercer Bears’ storybook victory over the No. 3 seeded Duke Blue Devils in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

“This is history. Nobody expected Mercer to win,” Pharr said.

Pharr will be graduating from Mercer this year with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

“It’s a wonderful school,” he said, “and what they do for the student body as far as these trips? It’s an awesome thing.”

Mercer officials have prepared for another bus trip to North Carolina, this time for Sunday’s matchup against Tennessee. The game tips off at 6:10 p.m. More than 500 students, faculty members and other supporters were expected to pack 10 buses that were scheduled to leave Macon at 6:45 a.m.

Pharr, who lives in McDonough, planned to be back with the caravan Sunday.

“It was a neat experience,” he said of attending Friday’s game. “I got to meet a lot of people from other states that didn’t have any idea who Mercer was. And we won!”

The Bears weren’t the only winners. Businesses in Mercer Village got in on the action as the game drove a high volume of food and alcohol sales to the hundreds of students and other fans who packed a short stretch of Montpelier Avenue to watch the team on a jumbo TV screen.

Carl Fambro, owner of Francar’s Buffalo Wings, said Friday’s game produced one of the busiest days since Francar’s has been open.

“We do a ticket count every day,” Fambro said. “We had over 225 tickets come in. We’ve never done that number before, not on Super Bowl, not Mardi Gras, not our grand opening.”

Charity also benefited from the sales. Mercer sorority sisters had scheduled a drive for the March of Dimes a couple months ago, and in exchange for helping at the restaurant Friday, Francar’s will donate 10 percent of the day’s profits, Fambro said.

Weather might be a factor in whether businesses will see a repeat performance Sunday. Rain is forecast for most of the afternoon.

If the skies clear by 4 p.m., watch party organizers will have enough time to set up chairs and the big screen TV on Montpelier Avenue, said Fambro. Sunday’s watch party is being organized by Mercer, the College Hill Alliance and Mercer Village businesses.

In the event of rain, Fambro said the party will move into Hawkins Arena.

Nearby at Ingleside Village Pizza and Margaritas Mexican Grill business also was brisk.

“It was ridiculous,” said Brooke Scott, a server at Ingleside Village Pizza.

Scott said her restaurant has been busier during football games, but the atmosphere surrounding Friday’s game was special.

“People seemed more amped up about the basketball game,” she said.

Margaritas ran out of certain food items prepared earlier in the day, said Kevin Bryant, restaurant manager. Margaritas also ran out of the recently released brew by the Macon Beer Company called “Macon Love.” The restaurant sold two kegs worth of the cherry-flavored beer in five hours, Bryant said.

Fambro said the local business owners were not expecting what happened Friday.

Some of that business spilled over into Saturday. At the Barnes & Noble campus bookstore, a line of people were waiting in line outside before it opened Saturday to grab official Mercer merchandise, he said.

“We talked about it beforehand, but we had no idea it would be this big,” Fambro said.

“This is history.”

Jane Hammond of the Center for Collaborative Journalism contributed to this report. To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 256-9751.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service