Richmond-area sports bars enduring ‘March Sadness’

Richmond-area sports bars enduring ‘March Sadness’

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s a day that is usually celebrated - the first full day of March Madness. Sports bars are often packed and loud. Glasses are filled at every turn, and fans are shoulder-to-shoulder taking in one of the nation’s most coveted events.

"This Thursday has always been an amazing day for us," said Mark Overby, owner of Home Team Grill in the Fan. "We come in hours early and there are people generally lined up before we can even open the doors."

Eight days ago, Overby and his staff were planning on business as usual, but with the NCAA Tournament shutting down, as well as many restaurants themselves, the bar is silent and mostly empty on this Thursday afternoon. The televisions are off, the madness extinguished.

"This place hasn't been closed more than five days in a row in the last 13 years," the owner remarked. "Looking around at what's going on, it's hard to understand what's happening and it's hard to wonder what to do."

Especially since March is one of the calendar's most crucial months for business.

"Generally speaking, for this business, March is the month that carries us through the summer," noted Overby. "We count on this month to help cover the summer and the slow times."

Like many establishments across the country, it’s carryout and delivery only for the time being at Home Team Grill. Planning ahead is a difficult task, not knowing how long the call for social distancing will last.

“Right now we’re planning on two weeks to a month, and if it ends up being longer than that we’ll change our plan. The big plan is football. We are keeping our eye on the 22-week football prize.”

Sports has gone dark. The noise of the crowd has gone quiet, but this, too, shall pass, and when it does, Overby says that Home Team Grill will have its doors open and ready to go.

“The first baseball is thrown or the first football is thrown or the first basketball... everybody is going to be ecstatic. Whether it’s next year or in three months or six months or whatever it is, I think everybody is going to be ready.”

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