March Can't Wait
The restaurant race for the Houston Final Four tips off now
In New York City, during college football season bars from the Upper West Side to the East Village mark themselves as the property of fans from around the country — Florida, Ohio State, Texas, USC — by proudly hanging a college flag outside their door.
The message? Yes, the game is on here, but cheer for the wrong team at your own risk.
The Houston Local Organizing Committee for the 2011 NCAA Final Four is apparently taking this idea and running with it. The Organizing Committee's Restaurant Committee are designating four areas of Houston as "hospitality zones" — downtown/Midtown, the area around Reliant Park, the Galleria/Uptown District and the Washington corridor — and qualifying a limited number of eateries in each zone as participating restaurants.
But the best part of the plan (dubbed the Houston Restaurant-Retail Program) is that each zone will have four designated "fan gathering" restaurants, one for each of the participating teams. No, there will be no breaking bread between UNC and Duke fans, Syracuse fans can eat in peace away from Kansas alums and fans supporting Memphis, Kentucky, or whoever makes it to the big dance's final weekend can stay pumped by hanging out with their cheering brethren.
There will also be a larger number of restaurants in each of the four zones designated official "participating" restaurants. All these designated restaurants will be shown in the NCAA 2011 Men’s Final Four Fan Guide and on the official Final Four website. The idea behind the participating restaurants is that they'll include a wide variety of cuisines and restaurant styles across different price points.
Restaurants can apply for participating or fan gathering status at ghra.com through Nov. 15.
CultureMappers, which of Houston's more than 8,000 restaurants would make the best Final Four gathering spots? Is their a place that would be perfect for Duke fans? (The Blue Devils are No. 1 after all). Should the West Regional winner get a fan-gathering spot with a more laid-back style?