April 3, 2007
AIKEN, S.C.---It's one of the busiest weeks of the year for Augusta's restaurants, but they're not the only ones cashing in during the Masters. A lot of businesses in Aiken say they made preparations early this year in anticipation of the crowds...and even those who planned early already say they're swamped.
Businesses on Washington Road may think they've got prime real estate when it comes to luring in Master's patrons, but entrepreneurs in downtown Aiken say that's not necessarily the case.
"Aiken's a lot more quiet and more quaint," said Janny Bijas, co-owner of Up Your Alley restaurant. "We've been very busy."
Laura Sherman, the owner of the Sweet Cow Creamery, says Aiken is scooping up their own customers from the Garden City.
"(There are) a lot of out-of-town people not ready to go to the Masters yet, but in town to play golf a couple days and then hit the Masters at the end of the week," Sherman said. "So we have a lot of extra people in town."
Having opened her store five years ago, she says she knows now exactly what to expect...but even she admits there's no way she could've predicted the volume that came in for the first day of practice rounds this year.
"I did my ice cream order yesterday, and I had to double it a day early, because we're going to run out of ice cream," she said.
Over at the Aiken Brewing Company, the tables outside are already snatched up.
But they're not the only ones. While the silverware and glasses sit untouched for now at Up Your Alley, in just a few hours, employees will serve up more than they can handle.
"It's the busiest week of the year," Bijas said. "Probably quadruple our business. We see a lot of return customers every year from different states and countries."
Bijas told us he'll probably serve at least 250 dinners tonight alone.
All of the business owners we talked to agree business picked up last night, and it'll stay that way until next Monday.