Gary Whiting spent his Monday morning doing inventory and replenishing his stock of hamburgers, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller High Life.
Wisconsin fans, in town to watch their Top 10-ranked team take on BYU, had cleaned him and his bar — ABG’s Libation Emporium — out of a few items after he decided to open at 10 a.m. Saturday — two hours earlier than usual — ahead of the game’s 1:30 p.m. kickoff.
“We had 17 people come in the door at 10 o‘clock and about 35 or 40 follow them instantly,” Whiting said. “It was just a constant influx.”
Whiting said ABG’s capacity is 128 people and that the bar was “packed” for three hours with patrons who were “a little loud,” but otherwise were the best group of traveling fans he’s seen in 27 years of ownership.
“Financially, it‘s the biggest day I’ve ever had here,” he said, adding that it was “triple” what the bar’s normal income would be from a regular day.
City Limits Tavern also opened two hours early at 10 a.m. to accommodate the Badger faithful.
Liz Burley has been working at City Limits for about three weeks and was bartending Friday night for Provo’s Pride Festival crowd and Saturday morning for the Wisconsin crowd.
One fan, Burley recalls, brought a sign to the bar that read “Drink Wisconsinably.”
“It wasn‘t really a rush, but we definitely had a lot of people that came in and grabbed drinks before the game,” Burley said.
Of the bar’s drink selection, she said the fans bought mostly Bud Light and Fireball Cinnamon Whisky.
“They were all just happy to have a good time,” she said. “They were joking about trying to drink Provo dry.”
Whiting had never opened the bar early before and doesn’t follow sports closely, but considers serving Provo patrons and visitors to Utah alike as “community service.”
“It was a wonderful thing,” he said. “The people from Wisconsin are fabulous. They‘re the nicest, funnest people we’ve ever had here.”