Saturday, May 18, 2024

East Lansing prepares for big business during rivalry weekend

October 28, 2022
Harper's Restaurant and Brew Pub on July 20, 2022.
Harper's Restaurant and Brew Pub on July 20, 2022.

This Saturday, Michigan State Football play their neighbors to the south – the University of Michigan. Businesses across East Lansing are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the season. 

“So, it's obviously a much, much busier game day because it's our biggest rival,” Barrio manager Emma Tous said. “This year, we aren't doing as much preparation as we did last year, just because it's an away game.”

Typically, the rivalry game brings in more revenue to East Lansing businesses, and although the game is in Ann Arbor this year, they're still expecting big crowds.

“Definitely expect more than typical for an away game, just because I still think more people are going to want to go out and celebrate,” Tous said. “We’re kind of expecting it to look like a home game for one of the not so popular teams.”

As for preparation, Tous said Barrio is staying savvy, stocking up on extra liquor, food and staff to prepare for Saturday.

Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub has been preparing for the weekend for a few weeks, adding Halloween decor for the holiday and for fans, students and alumni in town for the game.

“I think every bar around you're gonna get a big turnout,” Harpers manager Hayden Thomas said. “It's the Michigan game, people want to be back at their alma mater.”

The entire weekend tends to be busy for them, and they anticipate a good atmosphere.

“It's definitely a much busier weekend. Of course, the students are out, it's a great atmosphere to be around,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately, they're going to be in Ann Arbor this year. But next year, it's gonna be a great seat on campus for Michigan State.”

Thomas said they’ve prepared with the appropriate number of bartenders and floor staff and are ready for whatever hits them.

Jolly Pumpkin, which opened in East Lansing in 2020, has yet to experience an away Michigan State-Michigan game, manager Tressa Harmon said.

“This year is an away game, so we're not too sure about how it's going to be. But usually at the away games we get really busy during because people want to watch the game,” Harmon said. “That's kind of what we're anticipating.”

For big games such as this one, they have extra people on staff as well as all managers. Employees that work the game typically work the entire day, so they're provided food as well.

Jolly Pumpkin will have their upstairs and downstairs open with three bartenders, about eight servers and food runners for extra hands, according to Harmon.

“It is the big game. A lot of people will be in Ann Arbor, but for the people that stay they definitely will come to watch the game,” Harmon said.

Jolly Pumpkin is also hosting a “Rival for a Cause” fundraiser in support of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. From now through the rest of October, every pint of Hail or Sparta sold will donate $1, and a purchase of a commemorative pint for $10 will donate $5 back to the hospital. 

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