Indiana Daily Student

Little 500 weekend is 'pretty crazy' for local business

<p>Pete Mikolaitis, general manager of Nick's English Hut, shares a laugh with employees behind the bar Monday evening. Mikolaitis discussed how Nick’s prepares for Little 500 weekend here in Bloomington.</p>

Pete Mikolaitis, general manager of Nick's English Hut, shares a laugh with employees behind the bar Monday evening. Mikolaitis discussed how Nick’s prepares for Little 500 weekend here in Bloomington.

Pete Mikolaitis has made it through 17 Little 500 races as the general manager of Nick’s English Hut.

He said every year looks the same. 

“They’re all pretty crazy,” Mikolaitis said. 

As bikers train and excitement on campus intensifies, many local businesses await one of their busiest, wildest weekends of the year. 

Mikolaitis said Little 500 weekend ranks among Nick's top revenue days, along with homecoming and football weekends.

Both Friday and Saturday typically prompt lines out the door from sunset until closing, he said.  

The restaurant’s servers, bartenders and door workers are trained to identify levels of intoxication, which Mikolaitis said can be problematic during Little 500 because of students' tendencies to drink throughout the day. He notices more fake IDs than usual, as out-of-town students come to Bloomington for the weekend. 

At BuffaLouie’s, general manager Scott Rogers said his staff is extra stringent about carding during Little 500. Like Nick’s, the weekend is one of BuffaLouie’s top five business times. 

“It’s a difficult day,” Rogers said. “It’s busy. Not everybody’s all there.”

Rogers said the increase in customers poses a challenge for a restaurant mostly staffed by students who want to partake in Little 500 festivities themselves. 

Though BuffaLouie’s staff members are warned all year to not request off for Little 500 weekend, Rogers said he tries to give each student either Friday or Saturday off. 

Meanwhile, some family-oriented establishments don’t experience much change for Little 500. Crosby Webb, manager of Cafe Pizzaria, said the family restaurant’s sales almost decrease. 

“A lot of townies eat here, and a lot of townies are afraid to come to town during Little Five,” Webb said. 

However, other non-alcoholic restaurants surrounded by bars see revenues increase based on their locations. 

Wheel Pizza, which opened next to Kilroy’sRecess and Upstairs Pub in August, is over-preparing for Little 500, general manager Jared Clemens said.

Senior Chris Delgadillo seasons and bakes pizzas with co-worker senior Andrew Cox during their shift Monday evening at Wheel Pizza. Delgadillo said that his manager recently discussed plans for Little 500 weekend, like how to handle the larger amount of business. Andrew Williams

Though his business has no previous experience with the event, Clemens said he expects to double sales this week. 

He even has a backup plan in case of overcrowding, in which he would close the store’s interior and serve pizza by the slice through the walk-up windows. 

“We’re excited for Little Five,” Clemens said, “I think.” 

Next to Wheel Pizza and the bars, Jimmy John’s faces overflowing drunk crowds on a nightly basis. Andrew Kinney, person in charge, said the store has three times more incidents with drunk patrons during Little 500.

Kinney said police typically do extra laps around the store every night, and increase their presence for Little 500. 

Although the Jimmy John’s Kirkwood location nearly doubles its sales for the Little 500 race, Kinney said the struggle to balance outgoing labor and incoming profit makes it one of the worst times of year.

“Halloween is pretty bad,” Kinney said. “But Little Five is worse.”

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