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Parents flock to bars, restaurants

Theresa Civantos | Monday, February 18, 2008

Married people over the age of 45 were the ones crowding the dance floor at The Backer this weekend, as Junior Parents Weekend brought waves of parents to campus – and to the bars, too.

“There were a lot more older people here this weekend,” said Roxanne Szczechowski, a bartender at the Linebacker Lounge. “At least half our customers were parents. Usually we have none.”

But most South Bend bars and restaurants were unfazed by the exceptionally large number of customers.

“We plan for Junior Parents Weekend,” said Shawn Dickens of Tippecanoe Place. “We expect more people.”

But that doesn’t mean the popular restaurant – and others like it – was able to serve everybody in town this weekend.

“My mom called Bonefish Grill at least a week in advance to make dinner reservations,” junior Catherine Twetten said. “They laughed and said they’d been booked for weeks, and that every restaurant in town was probably totally booked for Junior Parents Weekend.”

Twetten and her parents ended up at T. G. I. Friday’s instead.

But even though it was hard to get a table anywhere, junior Allison Lang said the weekend left her and her parents with wonderful memories.

“It was too short,” Lang said. “What’s really cool about Junior Parents Weekend is taking your parents to some of your favorite places on campus. It’s not like Frosh-O where they bring you to campus and say ‘Well, this is Notre Dame.’ Now, two and a half years later, you’re showing them, ‘This is the Notre Dame I know, this is why Notre Dame is like my second home.'”

She said she saw many parents impressed by how their children had adjusted to college life.

“You could definitely tell how proud everyone was of their kid making it this far,” she said.

Many students took their parents to parties with their friends and the friends’ parents.

“The parents really liked being able to re-visit their college experience,” Lang said. “For a lot of juniors, this was our first time being able to go out and drink with our parents. You really get to see how cool your parents can be.”

And many parents enjoyed the opportunity to cut loose with their kids.

“A lot of parents were acting like college kids, just drinking and having fun,” Szczechowski said.

That also led to bigger profits for bars and restaurants.

“The parents are definitely bigger spenders, especially when it comes to alcohol, because most students aren’t over 21,” Dickens said. “We had a gross profit of about $10,000 each night on Friday and Saturday.”

Dickens said that Tippecanoe had “about seven times our usual number of customers. It added up to about 700 more customers over the weekend than usual.”

The Bonefish Grill also said it saw its number of customers skyrocket during the weekend.