Special events can mean big business


Last weekend, I got to see part of the Chicago Marathon. With over one million spectators, it’s a pretty major event, spanning a huge area from the downtown Loop to the surrounding neighborhoods. Of course, the crowds of spectators tend to purchase a lot of food and drink, which means big business for the restaurants and bars along the marathon path. With this in mind, I was quite surprised that so few of those businesses were open on marathon day.

This was clearly a missed opportunity. Granted, many of the businesses in question are located in a business-oriented section of town that basically shuts down for the weekend. But the marathon is one of the biggest events of the year, and the crowds are always huge. The few restaurants that stayed open looked quite busy, so there was money to be made. Their competitors just didn’t want the hassle of being open an extra day, I guess.

The takeaway here is to be aware of those times when you might want to change your hours a bit. If there’s a big event taking place, perhaps it’s worth staying open a little bit longer, or adding a Saturday or Sunday shift to your weekday-only restaurant. And if you’re still not convinced, try sitting it out one year and visiting the area as a customer. You may be surprised at how much business the other guys are getting just for being open when you’re not.