'It's a money day': Detroit businesses love Lions' playoff run

The Detroit Lions, whose roots date back to 1930, are just one of four NFL teams that have never played in the Super Bowl. (Pop Quiz: Can you guess the other three?) Before this season, the team had won only one playoff game since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. So Lions fans were rightly delirious when their team won its division for the first time in three decades and broke its playoff drought this month, beating the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team's playoff run has brought much joy and a boost to local businesses around Ford Field, the team's home stadium.

Buddy's Pizza, a restaurant in downtown Detroit, was packed Sunday.

“It's really important to us and a lot of other bars and restaurants in the area,” said Andrew Stanek, manager of the restaurant near Ford Field. “Detroit Lions fans, through thick and thin and through 60 bad years, just stick with their team.”

A few blocks away, at Harry's Detroit Bar & Grill, a line had formed outside the restaurant and down the sidewalk.

Cesar Ramirez, assistant general manager of Harry's, said the restaurant had record sales during the Lions' first playoff win against the Rams.

“We've definitely seen a big uptick in our business,” he said, adding that the restaurant earned just over $60,000 on the day of the team's first playoff win, nearly $40,000 more than a typical day's earnings compared to the same period a year ago. .

“Everyone on the schedule wants to work because they know it's a money day,” Mr. Ramirez said.

The Lions' win against the Buccaneers on Sunday propelled them to their first NFC Championship Game since the 1991 season. While they will face the 49ers in Santa Clara, California, this weekend, the bars in Detroit will surely will be filled with Lions fans hoping their team can reach the Super Bowl for the first time and leave only the Cleveland Browns, Houston. Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars as teams that have not been in the title game.

Lions fans were all smiles as they waited to enter Ford Field. For those who couldn't get tickets, there was a back door near the stadium at Eastern Market, a collection of shops and restaurants in a neighborhood of the same name.

Ron Crachiola, known as Crackman, was among those attending the tailgate. Crachiola said he started going to games with his father 60 years ago and they had seen many more losses than wins, but they never lost faith. He said he wished his father, who died in April at age 95, could see the Lions fighting for a spot in the Super Bowl. On Sunday, Crachiola wore a necklace with a photo of his father.

“For the city it means a lot; It makes me cry,” said Crachiola, who will turn 72 this week. “It's still like a dream come true. I'm still on cloud nine. I sit there and think: This is really happening. “We are two games away from the Super Bowl.”

Businesses around Ford Field have benefited from the Lions' playoff run as well as years of investment in downtown Detroit, a part of the city that has received special attention after the city's bankruptcy recently. more than a decade.

Detroit is huge (139 square miles) and some neighborhoods, long dotted with homes and vacant lots, have seen little change amid the Lions' successes.

Still, some in Michigan say the team's history is creating new bonds.

Tiffany and Don Gilling arrived at Ford Field with their sons, Tripp, 9, and Kyden, 12, and a friend, Justin Vidosh, and his 8-year-old son, Parker.

“I think it means a lot to our city: the passion, the fun,” Gilling said. “It's bringing us closer together.”

“My kids, that's the best part, watching my kids experience this and just having fun,” Ms. Gilling added. “This is something they will always remember. “This is a core family memory we are creating and that is what brings me the most happiness.”

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