Hotels, restaurants fill up fast for Mom’s Weekend

By Eric Anderson

Here’s a perfect activity for Mom’s Weekend 2008: start planning Mom’s Weekend 2009.

Moms still without nearby hotel reservations for Friday and Saturday night will learn the hard way that dilly-dallying in reserving convenient lodging or restaurant tables can plague the weekend with long drives and fast food.

Emily Koza, sophomore in LAS and Illini Union Employee, said the Illini Union has 76 relatively inexpensive rooms that are distributed via a lottery. The Union starts accepting lottery submissions and reservations one year in advance.

“There’s no limit of how many times you can enter your name, so people will send in a ton of letters wanting their name to be picked,” Koza said.

Koza’s mom will be celebrating her eighth Mom’s Weekend in one of the Union rooms.

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“My dad tried (calling hotels) six months in advance,” Koza said. “And they were still all booked.”

Josh Moore, junior in LAS and Illini Union employee, recommends that moms with upperclassmen sons and daughters stay with them in their apartments.

“Worst case scenario: Rantoul is driving distance for Saturday and Sunday,” he said.

Rantoul and Savoy serve as spill-over hotel destinations. But Moore said he doubts that there are any hotels left in Savoy.

Dinner reservations are also going fast. A receptionist at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano, 2235 S. Neil St., Champaign, said there were “very limited” reservations for Friday and Saturday of Mom’s Weekend.

Rob Ragsdale, managing partner of Biaggi’s, said the restaurant will take 300 reservations for Mom’s Weekend 2009 on Mom’s Weekend 2008.

“There are 21 Biaggi’s nationwide. Many are in large metropolitan markets. We are by far the smallest market,” Ragsdale said. “But we hold the one-week sales record, the one-day sales record, the two-day sales record and the three-day sales record.”

Following graduation weekend, Mom’s Weekend is the second busiest time of the year. Mom’s Weekend 2007 brought in $32,000 on Saturday alone, while a normal Saturday has sales around $14,000.

During Mom’s Weekend, Biaggi’s has no closing time.

“We’ll serve people as long as they keep coming in,” Ragsdale said.

He added that last minute reservations are possible, but might be “late, late, late” in the evening.

Theresa Lavelle, sophomore in Business, said she is unconcerned about dinner and housing reservations.

“With moms, dinner isn’t as much of a priority because, at least with my mom, watching your figure is better,” Lavelle said. “If we went to the store and got a bag of salad, that would probably make her happier than going out for a steak dinner.”

Lavelle’s mom and aunt will be staying in her single-apartment, outfitted with a bed, couch and air-mattress.

Last year, Lavelle was hesitant to invite her mom to stay with her because of inconsiderate roommates.

In any case, the high demand for rooms and dinner reservations can punish those who wait too long.

“At the very least, start booking up Mom’s Weekend a year in advance,” Koza said. “If moms are thinking of coming down, they start calling.”