DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Some say you won’t find a larger group of die-hard Duke Blue Devil fans than at Devine’s.
The restaurant and sports bar on Main Street has welcomed fans to cheer on the Blue Devils since opening 45 years ago.
Gene Devine, the owner of the business, said, “Back in ’78 when I opened up, that was what I was trying to do was keep people in Durham and not go to Chapel Hill,” Devine laughed and added, “We know who’s over in Chapel Hill!”
Devine, a former Duke football player and graduate said the Duke games and fans drive everything. He said you seldom see a game day when the business isn’t loud and packed.
“We put all the TVs on and show the other games around the country…it’s great for all the fans to come out and watch multiple games, but of course, you want to see Duke win,” Devine said.
Daniel Pond, of Durham, said he has been going to the sports bar to cheer on the Blue Devils for years.
“I’ve been coming here since I was younger and watched the 2015 championships here,” he said. “It was one of the best nights of my life.”
Thomas Johnson, a Duke class of 1987 graduate, said he came by to watch the game knowing the business would be open early in the afternoon.
He joined others to watch the Duke Blue Devils play against the Tennessee Volunteers in the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s always a rush to be surrounded by ‘Dukies’ and cheering on Duke…it’s like a tradition,” Johnson said, describing what happens when March Madness arrives.
It’s that excitement and tradition of fans coming together that the owner said has even brought a few familiar faces to the restaurant over the years.
“Coach K[rzyzewski] started in 1980…I used to see him and see all the ball players and football, too. We’re right off of East Campus,” Devine said.
But on Saturday, fans couldn’t help but feel upset to see the men’s basketball team lose.
“Tennessee is just… they’re just a good, big team,” Pond said.
Despite the loss, Pond said it’s been exciting to see Duke’s progress knowing the team has a new coach and young team.
Win or lose, fans said there’s a special place in Devine’s.
“It’s a special place, it’s a special town, and it’s a special team. It’s home, it’s Duke…Duke feels like home,” Pond said.