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Area bars try to cash in on ‘Shoelace’ mania despite NCAA ban

BY ANNA ROZENBERG
For the Daily
Published October 3, 2010

Though Denard Robinson’s performance wasn’t as impressive as usual last week, that hasn’t stopped area bars and eateries from seeking ways to profit from the craze surrounding the Michigan quarterback.

Several local establishments have recently named food and drink items after the football player. But these specialties come soon after the University Athletic Department warned local vendors that selling merchandise referencing current University student-athletes is against NCAA rules.

Athletic Department spokesman Bruce Madej confirmed that any food or drink items used to profit from student-athletes also interferes with the NCAA ban.

Despite this warning, Cottage Inn Pizza created a new alcoholic drink last month called “The Shoelace,” named in honor of Robinson. The drink contains vodka, Red Bull, sour and orange juice, topped with a blue fruit-flavored “shoelace” candy.

Lorenzo Viera-Patron, manager of Cottage Inn Pizza, said last month that the drink has been popular among customers and even sold out when the restaurant ran out of the candy used for the “shoelaces.” After running out of the ingredient, Cottage Inn discontinued the special, but only temporarily.

When asked about plans to name other food items after Robinson, Viera-Patron said he wasn’t sure whether they will.

“We haven’t thought about that yet,” Viera-Patron said.

Cottage Inn isn’t the only establishment on campus following the Robinson-naming trend. Banfield’s Bar & Grill, located at 3140 Packard St., started calling one of its tequila shots a “shoelace.”

Will Banfield, owner of Banfield’s Bar & Grill, said he chose this specific shot to carry the Robinson connotation since it is 180-proof tequila.

“It doesn’t take long to get a buzz off that, and it doesn’t take long for Denard to get over the goal line,” Banfield said with a chuckle.

Every time Robinson scores a touchdown during the game, the bar puts a discounted price on the shot, Banfield said.

Packard Pub has been featuring its own “Denard Robinson” shot since the Michigan football team played its first game against the University of Connecticut.

According to Manager Carl Bommarito, ingredients like blue caracao, pineapple juice, vodka and a secret ingredient are mixed to form a maize and blue shot.

“(It’s) probably the most popular shot we’ve ever had here,” Bommarito said.

The Denard Robinson shot is sold at Packard Pub for $3 every Saturday, and Bommarito said he intends to continue the special year-round.

David Root, general manager of the Brown Jug, said the Jug has no immediate plans to name any food or drink items after Robinson, though it has named meals after past football players once they graduated.

Currently, the Jug has sandwiches named after Michigan football greats including John Navarre and Chris Perry. If Robinson continues to be as popular as he is now, Root said he too has a good shot at Brown Jug food-fame.