Atlanta United fans pour into businesses near MLS Cup parade route

Businesses located near the Atlanta United's MLS Cup parade route reported booming sales and few inconveniences caused by the revelry.

Hello Atlanta, a souvenir shop stocked with United apparel, was inundated as people waited for the procession to pass its doors. Abdul Karim, who has been working at the store for about 10 years, said he had never seen a Monday morning quite as busy.

“Believe me, it’s been the best one,” he said. “I sold all my scarves. All hats. Only a few shirts are left.”

Fans were so eager to stock up, Karim said, they grabbed whatever items were available and headed straight to the cash register.

“People did not even look at the prices,” he said.

Downtown restaurants that were open on Monday reaped big rewards.

“We did triple business,” said Buster Shadwick, bartender at Smoke Ring, which sits in the shadows of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Castleberry Hill.

Shadwick estimated that the barbecue joint served 120 meals in a two-hour lunch span.

On the drink side, places like Das Biergarden on Marietta Street likewise filled with fans. Assistant general manager Matt Sharpe estimated that the restaurant had already taken care of between 1,500 and 2,000 people by 2:30 in the afternoon.

But that was a cake-walk compared to the revelry of Saturday’s big win. “Saturday was a crazy day,” he said.

The city and the team appeared to have selected the route down Baker and Marietta streets and ending at the stadium partially with businesses in mind. Streets near Centennial Olympic Park already have limited access due to construction there and at Georgia Aquarium. The 10 a.m. start time allowed workers time to get situated at their offices before the crowds gathered.

A regular mix of tourists and construction workers stopped by for breakfast wraps and sandwiches at the Subway sandwich shop on Park Avenue West, just steps away from the route. Yasmin Mayo didn’t mind if there was a little extra traffic from people stopping inside to get warm or use the bathroom.

In between customers, she stepped outside to people-watch. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank rode down Baker Street in convertibles, while rowdy fans chanted and waved their flags.

Then came the members of the team, riding on the top level of a double-decker bus.

Brandon Murphy normally sells beer inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but on Monday he was in a new location with a new sales pitch.

“Hot chocolate!” he called out to fans walking through Centennial Olympic Park. “Come on, it’s cold out here!”

Murphy made frequent trips back to his home base to replace cooling cups of cocoa with fresh, hot ones. But he also took a moment to soak in the atmosphere of thousands of fans celebrating an Atlanta championship.

“That was legendary,” he said. “A once-in-a-lifetime thing; hopefully, it isn’t once in a lifetime.”

Then he positioned the tray atop his head and walked back toward the crowd: “Hot chocolate!”

Eugene Gardner’s tent, where he sold scarves, shirts and sweatshirts, was a few blocks off the parade route, at the corner of Peachtree Street and Andrew Young International Boulevard.

Gardner said he expected to sell out of most items by the end of the day.

He remembers the last time the city celebrated a championship — when the Braves won the World Series in 1995. He also recalls how defeated local sports fans felt after the Falcons lost the Super Bowl LI almost two years ago.

This weekend's win takes some of that sting away, Gardner said.

“It’s actually a good thing for the city to hang it’s hat on,” he said. “To say, ‘Hey, we finally won.’”