Campus bars not only businesses impacted on Unofficial
March 2, 2016
“We definitely get more customers,” said Kyle Spesard, general manager of Jimmy John’s on Green Street.
He said the restaurant typically sees about five times more business on Unofficial.
“It’s wild how much business increases,” said Bryton Carmack, an employee at DP Dough. “The increase in business is just so large (that) we over-staff.”
Carmack said while a normal shift at DP Dough staffs three or four people, an Unofficial shift could have as many as ten people on staff at one time.
“It’s just so busy at all times of the day during Unofficial,” he said.
However, for some businesses, Unofficial is about as busy as any typical weekend on campus.
“We’re not really bar food,” said Deke Vasdy, general manager of Panera Bread. “We’ll be up a little bit on Saturday, that’s the only day.”
Though a green t-shirt is practically a prerequisite for celebrating the holiday, not all of the area’s stores sell more.
“Since we don’t really carry Unofficial gear, based on University policy, we don’t really get a big uptake in business,” said Jim Trail, operations manager of the Illini Union Bookstore. “So we get a little more traffic in people looking for restrooms, but not a lot more.” For most businesses, the day of the weekend that is busiest — Friday or Saturday — varies. “It usually varies, some years the Friday has been a lot busier than the Saturday, and some years the Saturday has been a lot busier than the Friday, it just depends,” Carmack said. For the most part, businesses see a fairly even mix of University students and people who are visiting for the weekend. “It’s kind of a cross-section of everybody who’s in town,” Trail said. “We’ll get people who come down here and want to see what we’re about and we’ll get business from people from the cross-section who came in.”
Some businesses, however, said they are too busy on Unofficial weekend to do much more than serve their customers.
“When we’re that busy, we don’t really look at where they’re coming from or who they are it’s just more of … we make the food and get it out to them,” Carmack said.
While the uptick in business from intoxicated, hungry customers may be a benefit to local store owners on the notorious weekend, it can quickly go wrong if their customers get rowdy.
“Disorderly (conduct) — I’ve had a vandalism before, I’ve had a couple of fights in the bathroom,” Vasdy said, recalling the times he’s had to call the police on disruptive patrons.
Although there tends to be a mix of University and non-University customers, Vasdy said crimes that occur at Panera tend to come from out-of-towners.
“I’ve been here six years now, I’ve probably had the police called in here ten times in six years, and it’s never been a U of I student,” he said. “It’s always been a student from out of town.”