Friday, February 3, 2023

How are East Lansing businesses preparing for winter break?

December 7, 2022
New customers are seated and servers take their first orders during Barrio’s grand opening on March 9, 2020.
New customers are seated and servers take their first orders during Barrio’s grand opening on March 9, 2020. —
Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

As Michigan State University students leave East Lansing to ring in the holidays during winter break, the city's bars, restaurants and shops are left having to adapt. 

Occupancy will fall short, staff will be reduced and new ideas will be tested out for the new year. Most local establishments will stay open during the break but expect to see some schedule changes.  

Barrio, East Lansing's branch of the chain providing tacos and margaritas, will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Other than that, they will be running as usual – with a few changes.

Barrio manager Calli Stahl estimated occupancy will be 50% less over the holiday. With that in mind, the restaurant will be scheduling fewer staff members. 

During Thanksgiving break, Barrio didn’t cut down on staff, as they believed occupancy could go either way. After it fell on the low side over the long weekend, the staff learned their lesson, Stahl said.  

Inventory will also take a cut, so that less spoiled food will be thrown out.  

“We kind of know what days are busy or what days aren’t, so that gives us a clue of 'alright, this is what we should make today,’" Stahl said. “If we have to make more, so be it. We’re kind of lessening what we make right now.” 

New promotions have been whipped up in light of a less busy schedule and they will continue to be discussed throughout the break.  

“I have always wanted to do Taco Tuesdays,” Stahl said. “I was hoping that would be one of them. And then I think another one could be something, like a Margarita Monday.” 

Barrio is not the only establishment with new plans for the new year. 

Max Saylor, manager at Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub and P.T. O’Malley’s, has a few ideas up his sleeve. 

“Oh, I have a bunch,” Saylor said. “You’ll have to wait and see.” 

In previous years, the establishment has given back to charity during the holiday season and hopes to continue with it this year.

In terms of occupancy, Saylor expects to see a decent drop some nights based on previous breaks. To adjust to the decrease in customers, staff members will be given a few days off during break. However, once New Year's Eve comes around, it will increase staff by about 50%.

Harper's expects to be open for all of winter break with a few exceptions, like Christmas Day. It will be posting updates on its Instagram, including hours and promotions.  

For DBN Boutique, a women’s clothing store located on M.A.C. Avenue, founder and owner Onylah Taggart expects to be open most of the winter break – except for a quick trip to New York City. There, she will meet with models to create more content with and continue with public relations. 

For that period, Taggart emphasized the boutique's online store, where customers can browse their selection. 

Taggart plans to have a few promotions before break starts. On Dec. 10, a giveaway will be announced. The store also plans to have a sale, but she's not dishing out details yet.

“We’re probably going to do a final sale because of the fact that everybody’s going back home and stuff before the holidays,” Taggart said. “For finals week we’re probably going to do something.”

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