Athens Becomes a Winter Wonderland

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By William McFadden

In recent weeks, The University of Georgia experienced icy weather resulting in a cumulative five days of school closings.  During the school closings, downtown businesses decided whether or not to remain open in the wake of inclement weather.  Certain bars, such as The Bury, viewed this as an opportunity for increased sales and larger crowds.

“Monday and Tuesday were huge days for us,” said Brandon Hoover, one of three managers at The Bury. “They were essentially the equivalent to a Friday or Saturday night.”

The Bury was not the only bar that decided to remain open.  100 Proof, a popular bar located on Broad Street, opted to use deals to lure in snow-weary customers according to junior bartender Savannah Levins.

“We decided to introduce a large bucket that was a mixture of alcohols and was a bright blue color,” Levins said. “We called it a snowpocalypse bucket in honor of the snow storm and it was very popular.”

A snow storm that spans multiple days however, can be a big issue for a business that relies on stock deliveries throughout the week.  Some bars were luckier than others and had a favorable shipment schedule that arrived early in the week.

“Because we restock our bar on Tuesdays we weren’t in danger of running out of alcohol or cups like a lot of other bars.  We were really lucky,” Levins said.

Other bars, such as The Bury, did not have early delivery days but foresaw the problem and worked with the companies to avoid major complications.

“We really had to work with the business a lot to make sure that we had enough stock for the week,” said Hoover. “It was definitely a little odd, but the distributors worked with us very well.”

In order to maximize their potential revenue, many of the bars that did open decided to open earlier than usual.  According to Levins, 100 Proof opened at three o’clock each day as opposed to their usual opening time of nine o’clock.

“The bar was very busy and the crowd seemed to grow throughout the day,” Levins said. “It was about as busy as the weekends, but we made a lot more money because we were open all day long.”

Joe Calpin, a sophomore at the University of Georgia, was one of the many students who took advantage of school cancellations to go out.  He described the environment downtown as electric.

“It was almost as crowded as a game day and everyone was even more excited because there were still weekday prices,” Calpin said.  “You couldn’t walk into a bar without seeing someone you knew almost immediately.”

When students wandered out of the bars looking for something other than alcohol, they headed to The Grill, one of the only restaurants open during the snow days.  The Grill is a 24-hour burger joint that has long been popular amongst locals and students.

As a 24-hour restaurant, The Grill was open to students at any point of the day and one manager relayed that they had “a huge increase in business, and the tables were filled with students at all hours of the day.”

The restaurant expected a large amount of business, and adjusted aptly; “we were able to anticipate the snow day and ordered enough supplies so that we would be able to provide for everyone,” Said The Grill manager who wished to remain unnamed. “If we hadn’t, there is no way that we would have had enough food.”

If Athens residents risked driving during the icy conditions, they would have been pleased to discover free parking downtown.  Due to the city shutting down, the Athens Parking Services department no longer checked the meters according spokesperson Chuck Horton.

“We shut down as the school shuts down,” Horton explained. “When they were closed Tuesday, Wednesday and part of Thursday, we were closed at the same times.”

Although parking was free, many students opted to walk downtown due to the icy conditions.  Those that had to work downtown considered driving but decided that the risk was too great.

“I was going to drive to work on Wednesday, but when I started to back out of my driveway my car began to slide,” said Hoover.  “It definitely was not worth the risk when downtown was within easy walking distance.”

According to Calpin, there were very few taxis operating that night and even fewer police cars than can be found on a typical night downtown.

With the snow days providing respite for the Athens residents, many took to the downtown area for drinks at their favorite bar such as The Bury or 100 Proof and a quick bite to eat at The Grill.  While some businesses enjoyed the days off, others capitalized on the increase of consumers and downtown Athens turned into a winter wonderland for both the students and the downtown industry.

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