DeKALB – Micah Van Loon said a call ahead next weekend can help if you have a big party.
The Junction Eating Place, 816 W. Lincoln Highway, is one of the area businesses preparing for an influx of people as the the IHSA state football finals descend on DeKalb.
“We’ll get whole teams occasionally,” said Van Loon, who described himself as a “jack of all trades” at the restaurant. In past years, the restaurant has seen parties of 30 or more stop by during the weekend.
This year marks the fourth that DeKalb and Northern Illinois University have hosted the football finals. Since 2013, the region has traded off with Champaign holding the games.
Brad Hoey with the IHSA Destination DeKalb committee, said the event can bring between $800,000 to $1 million to the area, between people stopping in restaurants, staying at hotels and shopping in area stores.
“It gives us a chance to highlight the great things we have here,” Hoey said.
Hoey said the committee plans for between 24-30,000 people to come to the area, depending on which teams make it to state.
Brian White, general manager at Fatty’s Pub and Grille, 1312 W. Lincoln Highway, said he starts planning weeks in advance for the crush of visitors coming through town.
He said he begins setting schedules two weeks in advance to ensure enough staff.
“We try to get people fed as fast as possible,” he said, noting that customers that weekend often have games to get to after they eat.
The fact that the game stake place over a holiday weekend adds another wrinkle to planning: many of the places he would order food from don’t deliver on Fridays, so, White said, they have to plan further ahead than they normally would so as not to run out of product in the middle of Saturday.
Tom Tsiagalis, an owner of The Junction for the past 40 years, said his restaurant prepares by expecting a younger crowd, prepping sweeter menu items like cinnamon rolls and french toast for breakfast, which he serves all day.
“All around the businesses get a lot of visitors,” he said.
Hoey said the weekend is an opportunity to showcase the area for the future as well. He said a lot of the visitors to town are high school students, coming to town to support friends or relatives competing int he games.
“There’s thousands of perspective students,” he said. “Hopefully they’re looking at the university, too.”
“We’re excited. We love when this comes to town,” White said. “It’s fun and good for business.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle