When marketing senior Jeff Lough heads home to Marshall, Mich., for Thanksgiving break, one of the events he’s looking forward to the most is happening before the actual holiday occurs.
“Thanksgiving eve,” a night known for its heavy bar and restaurant traffic, serves as a time for students who return home to reunite with hometown friends and catch up as the holiday season officially kicks off.
“I am going to go to the bar,” Lough said. “I’ve been talking to some friends back home all day; some people are going to gather at one of the local spots downtown. … When they get home, they want to relax, and the bar is a good place to do that. People can share some laughs and have a beer.”
For East Lansing bars, this often means adding staff to cover the night before turkey day and a transition toward different clientele when students leave town and permanent residents take their place.
Although most students are homeward-bound for the holiday, Crunchy’s general manager Mike Krueger said the bar doesn’t experience a lull in business because of students’ absence, just a transition.
When students head out, permanent residents see it as the perfect time to come in, he said.
“We’ll definitely be busier than normal that night,” Krueger said. “(During that week), we see a lot of neighborhood people who come out, who think students have left. When students leave, we get more of the regulars, and people from the surrounding neighborhoods come out because they think the students are gone — a little bit of an older crowd (comes in).”
While the night before Thanksgiving is thought of by most as a night for bars, Harrison Roadhouse general manager Gaebril Jones said the restaurant, located at 122 N. Harrison Road, sees an increase in not only their sales at the bar, but their sales in the restaurant part of the establishment.
“I don’t necessarily know if more people go to bars or not … (but) we definitely see people coming in to catch up,” Jones said.
“We see a change. … We prepare and make sure to have plenty of food available and have extra staff.”
Although there often is a visible increase in bar activity on Thanksgiving eve, Capt. Bill Mitchell of the East Lansing Police Department said many students’ eagerness to leave the city and get home has kept the numbers down in past years, and it can be difficult to tell which way the numbers will swing each year.