Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

bloomington

How Little 500 affects local businesses

calittle500business042023

Little 500, the largest collegiate bike race in the U.S., has been called “The World’s Greatest College Weekend” and brings more than 25,000 people to Bloomington each year.  

Thousands of people — including alumni, families and more — flood the streets of Bloomington, after a hot day of sitting in the sun or a long night of celebrating, they are hungry. 

“We are nonstop busy from Thursday all the way through the end of the night on Sunday,” a manager at Nick’s English Hut on Kirkwood Avenue said.  “It’s always a good time. We love it.”  

From breakfast stops to dessert, many restaurants have lines out the door from Thursday through Sunday.  

The Runcible Spoon on East Sixth Street, a local restaurant well known around town for its breakfast, gets busy the moment the restaurant opens at 8 a.m. with college students and families alike.  

“People are already waiting outside,” Angela Frezza, manager at the Runcible Spoon said. “Usually, we’re pretty busy in the morning for breakfast and brunch, but Little 500 pushes those busy hours through til we close.”  

Race goers can prep for the long day in the sun with some filling breakfast at the Runcible Spoon, the Village Deli or even grab a quick bagel from Bloomington Bagels. However, the party doesn’t stop there.  

Local restaurants on Kirkwood Avenue and on the Square become flooded with a lunch rush and the chaos doesn’t let up until the closing sign switches off.  

Even fast-food restaurants that have secured a top spot on Kirkwood Avenue, such as Chipotle and Five Guys, are filled to max capacity with race guests trying to refuel and prepare themselves for the night.  

“It will usually be about $4,000 to $5,000 more in revenue per day than a typical weekend,” Jarod Delt, a manager at Five Guys on Kirkwood, said.  

However, not every business in town sees an uproar in customers. Matt Houghton, a manager at Lennie’s Brewpub on Kirkwood Avenue, said his restaurant actually sees a decrease in customers due to locals avoiding the chaos that Kirkwood Avenue can become.  

“All of the locals with any sense steer clear of the area because there are a million drunken college kids running around,” Houghton said.  

Houghton said Lennie’s Brewpub preps their workers by making sure they are on high alert, monitoring intoxication levels of guests by paying close attention to alcohol intake within the restaurant and looking out for anything that could cause danger to the staff or other customers.  

Lennie’s Brewpub is located in close proximity to Kilroy’s Bar N’ Grill, one of the top bars in Bloomington for college students and alumni on any given weekend.  

On Little 500 weekend, Kilroy’s hosts special events such as Breakfast Club, an event that opens the bar at 7 a.m. and includes a free breakfast buffet and special offers on drinks. This event brings in mass amounts of customers and increases the crowds on Kirkwood.  

It isn’t just the college students who take over the businesses, though. Families pile into restaurants for dinner and often follow it up with some dessert from places like The Chocolate Moose.  

“It definitely gets packed in here,” Beth Calgaro, a manager at The Chocolate Moose, said. “We have to double our staff.” 

Calgaro said preparation for the Little 500 weekend also includes making sure they have enough supplies and food to serve everyone and fulfill all catering orders.  

Little 500 takes over the town of Bloomington in many ways. Food and drinks are a critical aspect to surviving the weekend of sitting in potentially hot weather and late nights out. Although not every restaurant is affected in the same way, many take precautions to prepare for the most iconic college weekend in America.  

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe