INDIANAPOLIS — Warm temperatures Wednesday have many people out enjoying the nice weather, including some getting a jumpstart on celebrating March Madness and St. Patrick's Day.
It's bringing a needed bump in business for a lot of bars and restaurants in town that were hit hard by COVID-19.
Businesses like the Slippery Noodle Inn say they're getting ready for the trifecta of traffic walking in their doors over the next few days — between March Madness basketball fans, St. Patrick's Day and even Supercross this weekend. Combine that with these unusually high temperatures and they say it's going to be extremely busy — a welcome change after two tough years.
"All hands on deck tomorrow," said Sara Etherington, office manager at the Slippery Noodle Inn in downtown Indianapolis.
With St. Patrick's Day and first round tip off just hours away, the staff at the Noodle are bracing for a busy few days.
"It's a lot to handle, we've obviously beefed up our staff," said Josh Caplinger, manager at the Slippery Noodle Inn.
"Especially with St. Patty's, it's like a perfect storm coming up this weekend. Basketball, St. Patrick's Day and Supercross in like a three-day span. Yeah, we're anticipating large crowds," Etherington said.
Balmy weather is expected to bring both diehard and fair-weather fans alike to downtown. And after a tough two years in the pandemic forcing closures and keeping many people at home, this bump in traffic feels like a slam dunk for businesses.
"It's been so hard to navigate over the last couple of years so it's nice now that something like this weekend, we think it's going to be busy and it will be," Etherington said. "It will be."
Over at O'Reilly's Irish Bar and Restaurant in downtown Indianapolis, they're expecting to serve thousands of people over the next few days, ordering in hundreds of kegs to make sure the Guinness stays flowing.
"All of the businesses downtown need it, especially coming out of COVID-19. Luckily, we've been fortunate enough to host March Madness here before, we're doing it again. And with our prime location right across the street from Gainbridge Fieldhouse, we're anticipating an influx of people to come and visit us," said Drake Delossantos.
They're still down about 20 percent of staffing, so even with added help coming in, they're asking fans to be patient when waiting for their pints.
According to Visit Indy, these three weeks of basketball play are expected to bring in an estimated $25-$30-million to the area.
And Indy fans are ready to get out and join visiting fans, green beer or Guinness in hand, to start cheering as soon as the games get going Thursday.
"This is something we look forward to and this is what Indiana is all about, putting the ball in the hoop," Caplinger said.