Businesses split on Unofficial

By Andy Seifert

Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day may be a favorite holiday among bars and students, but it’s quickly becoming a public hazard for some safety officials and restaurant managers.

The Champaign and University police departments, in a coordinated effort to take a proactive stance against unruly behavior on Unofficial, handed out 103 city ordinance violations during this year’s festivities, compared to 83 violations during last year’s Unofficial.

“It’s a lot more (violations) than usual for a regular weekend, but we had more officers out there and they were specifically targeting alcohol violations and other disorderly conduct violations,” said Lt. Holly Nearing, South District commander of the Champaign Police Department.

Nearing said students from 25 universities and colleges were among those to receive a city ordinance violation.

Scott Cochrane, owner of three campus bars, CO Daniel’s, Firehaus and The Clybourne, said that the ordinance that kept the bars from opening until 11 a.m. didn’t improve the situation on campus.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

“We had kids that showed up at 11 a.m. that were clearly intoxicated,” Cochrane said.

However, he said the behavior of the majority of students made Unofficial go relatively smoothly.

“Overall, I think the crowds were good,” Cochrane said. “We tried to get the message out that it was the few and not the many that create problems.”

Meanwhile, business managers in Campustown reported an increase in business, but many restaurant managers on Campustown felt the extra business came at too costly of a price.

Jamie Kuhn, assistant manager of Potbelly’s Sandwich Works, 501 E. Green St., said they made three times the business on Unofficial then on a regular Friday. Still, she said she does not think it is worth the all the trouble.

“It was pretty wild,” Kuhn said. “The dining room was totally trashed. The bathrooms were trashed. It was crazy. We really liked having a lot of business, but it was stressful business at the same time.”

Bob Kadlee, manager of Chipotle, 528 E. Green St., said his first experience with Unofficial was one of unmanaged chaos. He reported that one customer was shoved into the window on the second floor of the restaurant, and by the time the restaurant closed, the trash was up to his ankles.

Kadlee said the police were at Chipotle six times during the day, and that next year he will bring in security to handle crowd control.

Some restaurant owners did not find the Unofficial crowd to be too unruly for the extra business. John Gatwood, assistant manager of the International House of Pancakes, 308 E Green St., said the crowd for this year’s celebration was well behaved.

“I’ve been doing this for about five years, and it seems like this year people were happier,” Gatwood said. “In past years we got the angry, drunk crowd. This time everyone was in good spirits, which was kind of odd.”

Gatwood said that on a normal Friday or Saturday, the restaurant’s sales would total $3,500 to $4,500, but on Unofficial the number spiked to $5,800. He said the spike in sales was well worth any potential disorderly conduct in the restaurant.

“There are people who don’t have self control and there are people who do have self control, and you’re going to have that in any situation . so I don’t have a problem with it.

“It comes with the territory. You get a few people in here that don’t want to be orderly. You just take care of that, you kick them out,” Gatwood said, adding that he only had to kick out one person this year.

Whether or not changes will be made by the University or the police departments to keep crowds more orderly next year remains to be seen. Nearing said that changes would probably be made for next year’s Unofficial but that those changes will not be made until the University and the police department analyzes how well this year went.

“We’re not going to rush,” Nearing said. “We’re going to take everything into consideration and everything into context, and determine how to proceed from there.”

Jeff Christensen, assistant chief of the University’s Division of Public Safety, shared Nearing’s sentiments.

“The University is planning on being more aggressive next year, but we’ll evaluate the situation before making a decision,” Christensen said.

Meanwhile, health officials at Carle Foundation Hospital said there was a small spike in alcohol-related cases on Unofficial.

Allen Rinehart, Carle Foundation Hospital’s manager for the emergency department, said 10-12 patients with an alcohol-related problem were checked in on Unofficial. Rinehart said a normal number for a Friday or Saturday night is about eight.

Public safety and health officials both agreed that the only major incident was the death of Caroline Yoon, the 22-year-old University alumna who fell off a motorcycle at 11:53 p.m. on the night of Unofficial. “That was obviously the worst we could have imagined,” Nearing said. “And it came to fruition.”