At Archie’s on the South Side, there was not a TV that did not have a pair of eyes on it.By Bryant Reed

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Bar owners saw an influx of customers on Friday during the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Bar owners are cherishing the return of the tournament and trying to capitalize on the customers.

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Not only are people back at bars, but they’re also cheering for their favorite college basketball team. The tournament was canceled last year when COVID-19 started running rampant.

“It’s nice to be back at a bar with your buddies,” said Zack Lenhart. “We missed this last year.”

(Photo Credit: KDAK)

“It actually feels like I’m human again,” said Brandon Cochran.

At Archie’s on the South Side, there was not a TV that did not have a pair of eyes on it. Owner Mike Manning says it feels like old times.

But his business depends on the hometown team, and with none in the big dance, his bottom line takes a hit.

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“This year, there are no local teams except West Virginia, which I get West Virginia fans. But this year is different because there’s no Pitt, no Duquesne, no Robert Morris for March Madness. So it changes the way things go,” said Manning.

For Manning, business has held up during pandemic times. But he is looking ahead to the future.

“Looking forward to getting back to normal on April 4,” said Manning.

That’s when bar and restaurant restrictions loosen in Pennsylvania. But to make up for the money and bring in more people, Manning says they’ve got a wing deal.

But not everybody is watching for the upsets and mayhem.

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“I’m not a college basketball fan at all,” said Bryan Portuguese. “I’m just friends with these guys. It meant absolutely nothing to me. I did not fill out a bracket.”