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Show me the money: NCAA first round a slam dunk for business

Crowd at Block Bistro & Grill
Posted at 11:17 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 23:17:17-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Businesses working to bounce back from the pandemic are getting a big boost this weekend in downtown Indianapolis.

Basketball fans from across the country have descended on the Circle City, filling up bars, restaurants, hotels, and shops.

It's a welcome sight for people like Terry Anthony, owner of The Block Bistro & Grill.

"With the pandemic and the next wave, it has been hard. There have been ups and downs. When you get the chance to see this, all the hard work you've been through, it makes sense. It fills you with pride," Anthony said.

Like a lot of service industry work, getting people in the door hasn't been the Block Bistro's only issue.

In what's been called the Great Resignation, employees have voluntarily left their jobs to seek better opportunities since the beginning of 2021. The service industry has been among one of the hardest hit during the Great Resignation.

"Staffing is a challenge for all of us. It's still an issue but that's why you see the owner, ringing up beers and running tables. You do whatever you have to do," Anthony said.

The first round and day of play for the NCAA Tournament was intertwined with St. Patrick's Day. The double whammy of an economic impact is not lost on Sarah Murray and Chris Utter. They offer pedicabs to locals and visitors.

"I just think it's really amazing to provide services to people who may have not heard of this or seen it before," Utter said.

"I love riding. I love talking to people. I love getting paid to exercise and just being out in Indy," Murray said.

The couple of seven years said the pandemic was tough on the pedicab industry because hardly anyone was out. As expected, when businesses started to reopen and increase their capacity back to 100%, Murray and Utter saw a noticeable increase in rides.

"It was amazing. It was like nothing ever happened before," Utter said. They say it has only gotten better since then.

Visit Indy estimates there will be a $25-30 million impact on the local economy because of all the sporting events over the last three weeks.