Local businesses see financial boost in wake of national championship win

From left: Chris Dailey, Breanna Stewart, Geno Auriemma, Morgan Tuck, Kia Nurse and Moriah Jefferson pose with the national championship trophy following UConn's 82-51 victory over Syracuse at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana on Tuesday April 5, 2016. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

The UConn women’s basketball championship brought the usual traffic jams and lines of people on and around campus, but some Mansfield business owners say they think a men’s championship would have brought even more sales.

When the women’s basketball championship parade began in Hartford on April 10, Baha Mahmoud, owner of Gansett Wraps, Storrs Center’s newest restaurant, was ready for crowds of customers that never arrived.

While Moe’s and Mooyah Burgers and Fries saw some lines because of special offers they had in affiliation with UConn Athletics, Gansett Wraps, Dog Lane Café and Husky Pizza employees all reported no real increase in business during or after the women’s championship.

“People got used to women winning,” Mahmoud said. “It’s not as exciting as if men win. Maybe next year something will change.” 

Mahmoud and his family-owned restaurant, Gansett Wraps, has only been in Storrs for several months, but he said he is trying to work his way into becoming a sponsor of UConn athletics like Moe’s. 

“Next year, hopefully with the men’s (championship) I’m looking to do something like that,” Mahmoud said. 

Across the square, Moe’s and Mooyah continue to reap the benefits of sponsoring UConn athletics, especially during the tournament.   

“Every time they win a home game, we have free fries the next day. When they do Final Four, every step they pass we have some other special every day,” said Alberto Negron, general manager of Mooyah. 

The day after the championship game, Mooyah featured a $4 burger with fries, which increased the sales a little bit, Negron said.

“Every year it is different. We do it just to be part of UConn, that’s why we do the special offers,” he said.

Moe’s, which is operated by the same owners as Mooyah and also an official sponsor of UConn Athletics, offers specials such as dropping $1 per burrito for each game UConn wins on the way to a championship. 

“Every time they pass a conference like Sweet 16, Elite Eight, they start dropping a dollar on the burritos,” Negron said of Moe’s. 

In the past, Moe’s has dropped the price of a burrito down to $1, said Erica Zins, shift manager at Moe’s. This year they kept the cap at $3. 

“We stayed at a $3 cap because it was too busy last year,” Zins said. The constant stream of people resulted in about 10 times the usual business, Zins said. “We had to have a bouncer at the door this year.” 

Zins said the increase in sales is due to the special offers, and expects to continue to see such business in the future. 

“It’s college kids, burritos and a good deal. It’s never going to go away,” she said. 

With this many customers lining up to get special prices, Mahmoud is hoping his restaurant can see sales like that in the future if they sponsor UConn athletics. 

“I’ve only been here a couple of months, but I’m trying to work my way into the athletic department,” Mahmoud said of Gansett Wraps.  His family also has a restaurant at the University of Rhode Island, where they get plenty of business, he said. 

“All the sports teams love Gansett Wraps,” he said. “I’m excited to be here and to be a part of this.” 

While Mahmoud is hoping to become a sponsor of UConn Athletics, he still believes a men’s win is all it would take to see a line out his restaurant’s doors. 

“If the guys won the championship, the campus would have been a zoo,” he said.