Winter break spells slow business

Local business owners such as Olean McCaskill, owner of Olean’s Café, are bracing themselves for a loss of revenue experienced each year when students vacate Tallahassee during winter break.

During breaks, business drops about 30 percent, McCaskill said. This year’s break, which lasts 25 days, begins Dec. 10 for local college students.

McCaskill said she has survived breaks over the past six years through faith and word-of-mouth.

“I miss all of the students when they are gone, but we make it through prayer and supplication,” she said.

“Students also spread the word to people who live in the area, so I look forward to support from local residents.”

Eric Bredlove, assistant manager of AJ’s Sports Grill and Bar on Tennessee Street, said he replaces the airing of college sports with special events to attract local cus-tomers during breaks. This is done, Bredlove said, in an effort to attract Tallahassee natives who don’t usually frequent the bar.

“We scale down our focus on entertaining football fans and try to hold special events like concerts, wrestling matches and bikini contests,” he said.

While some business owners said they would struggle to make it through the break, there are those who are certain the break will have very little impact on sales.

“We need the business of students, but we are still able to survive while they are gone,” said Claude Jean-Louis, co-manager of the Winn-Dixie located at 110 Paul Russell Road.

“The students do have an impact but their orders are smaller,” he said. “Our bread and butter is the working class families whose purchase orders are a whole lot greater. When the students leave, we feel the effect, but it is not earth shattering.”

Jean-Louis said the break has more of an affect on employees than on overall sales in the store.

“We are able to keep up by increasing and decreasing our workforce. If our sales are up, we are able to have more shifts for employees,” Jean Louis said. “If our sales are down, we cut the shifts back to keep our productivity effective.

The owners said business would return to normal when students make their way back to the city.

“The weekly specials at AJ’s will remain the same so that we can keep our customers interested,” Bredlove said.

One of the bar’s weekly specials include “Flippin’ Tuesdays,” which allow customers a chance to participate in a coin toss to win free drink specials. The regular price for the drink specials ranges from $2 to $4.

McCaskill said she looks forward to welcoming students back to Olean’s when the break is over.

“I am sad when they go and glad when they come back because they know they cannot get this kind of food anywhere else,” she said. “It is almost like the feeling students get when they go home for the first time after being in college. They know what they left, and they are glad to be back.”

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