FAMU homecoming drums up local business

The city and streets of Tallahassee will be painted orange and green this week.

Graduates will return, tailgaters will be cooking and the campus of Florida A&M will be buzzing.

Homecoming not only affects the community of FAMU but also the surrounding businesses in Tallahassee.

Along with the majority of the city, the restaurant industry cites FAMU’s homecoming as a top-producing weekend.

Olean McCaskill, who is the owner of Olean’s and affectionately known as “Mama O” by her customers, said FAMU’s homecoming is her biggest weekend all year.

“FAMU homecoming is a bang,” McCaskill said. “It never stops coming.”

Olean’s has been behind the campus of FAMU on 1605 S. Adams St. for 18 years. McCaskill said her favorite part of homecoming is seeing all of her “kids.”

“They can’t wait, and I can’t wait to see,” McCaskill said. “They all grown, and oh, it’s just a blessing to see them when they come back.”

McCaskill said the return of her past customers provides an increase in profit, and the amount of 100-plus.

She said even with the increase of two shifts on Friday and Saturday, the crowd does not stop.

“It ain’t going to stop really,” McCaskill said. “Even if we close the door at 2, you’ll have some of them pulling on the door.”

McCaskill said she spends up to $600 more on supplies around this time, but expects to spend more for this weekend.

“I already know and pretty much can feel what it is going to be like, so that’s the way I order,” McCaskill said. “I feel like this one is an even bigger homecoming.”

Hotel chains will also feel the effect of the influx of people for one of the biggest weekends of the semester.

Courtney Hinson, the director of sales for Holiday Inn Hotel and Tallahassee Capital Center, said plenty of extra preparation goes into planning for homecoming.

“As for any special event weekend, we have to make sure we have extra staff in every department on duty to accommodate all of our guests’ needs in a timely manner,” Hinson said.

“We double up on our food order due to the amount of arrivals we have to make sure we have will have enough to serve during breakfast,” Hinson said. “We purchase FAMU collegiate items to give out to guests at check-in. We pre-assign rooms so that the check-in process is quick and easy – no lines, no waiting.”

Hinson said the Holiday Inn bases its special event weekend rates on availability, features and amenities.

However, some hotels may see a bump in profit while others are unaffected by FAMU’s homecoming.

Scott Taranto, general manager of Governors Inn, said statistically, he does do not see a large bump in guests around this time.

Although the inn has some out-of-town guests, he speculates it may be because of the hotel’s price range.

“We’re one of the more expensive places in town,” Taranto said. “$229 a night compared to other places, which are $89.”

Regardless, Hinson said during FAMU’s homecoming weekend, 90 percent of the hotel’s guests are out-of-town travelers.

“Before and after homecoming, we average approximately 60 percent occupancy daily,” Hinson said. “During homecoming, 100 percent. We are sold out.”