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Students boost area eateries

Matt Bramanti | Thursday, August 28, 2003

Many South Bend and Mishawaka-area restaurants and taverns have witnessed a sharp increase in sales, coinciding with the beginning of classes and the return of students.

Deanna Reed, manager of Famous Dave’s, a barbecue restaurant on Grape Road, said business is booming now that Notre Dame students have returned for the fall semester.

“We’ve definitely picked up since students came back,” Reed said. “It’s a huge plus for us – I’d say 10 to 15 percent this week.”

Higher-end restaurants also count on increased business when school is in session. Tippecanoe Place, which bills itself as “Michiana’s most romantic restaurant,” caters to students looking for an upscale treat, said general manager and Notre Dame alumnus Dave Barry.

“It’s not astoundingly dramatic, but it is a market,” he said.

Drinking establishments likewise count on traffic from Notre Dame students, as well as thirsty football fans.

Fiddler’s Hearth, a downtown tavern that opened on North Main Street last year, has found success with an influx of Notre Dame customers.

Jason Fawcett, a bartender at the Irish pub, said he has seen “a little bit of a jump” over the past week.

“But the big boom is home football weekends,” he said.

Corby’s Irish Pub on LaSalle Avenue is also heavily dependent on student patrons.

Manager Jason Zolman said the vast majority – “70 to 80 percent” – of his revenues come from local students. But the level of business at Corby’s is relatively stable year-round, he said.

“For us, it’s a smooth transition – Notre Dame students take the place of students who were home for the summer,” Zolman said.

Not all businesses have profited from the beginning of the academic year, however.

Macri’s Deli on Niles Avenue, however, has not enjoyed the success of some of its competitors. Manager Gerry Mott blames the popularity of on-campus dining options.

“More restaurants being built on campus hurts community restaurants,” Mott said.

He remained optimistic, however, that the beginning of the Notre Dame football season will bring hungry Irish fans to his door.

“We’re standing behind the team, and we hope the community gets the benefit,” Mott said.