By Chris Branch | LSU Student
Amid consternation and cries of anguish lobbed at CBS for forcing LSU games to be played in the afternoon, one sector is profiting by the action in the sunshine – restaurants.
So far, the season has seen three games kickoff at 2:30 p.m. and one start at 11:20 a.m., much to the dismay of Tiger fans who cherish Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
Day games, however, are good for the hospitality business.
Trent Wilson, general manager at Capital City Grille in downtown Baton Rouge, said the daytime affair is "definitely the better game." He estimated the restaurant loses 75 percent of its normal business when LSU plays at night.
"I wouldn't say we have a lot more business than normal," Wilson said. "But we get all that business back."
Erica Papillion, director of communications at the Louisiana Restaurant Association, has talked to several restaurants in the area and said the trend is logical.
"From what we're hearing, it's positively benefiting restaurants," Papillion said. "People have time to watch the game and then go out at night."
Jim Urdiales, owner of Mestizo, agreed. "Most of us take a hit during LSU football season. The 2:30 games are definitely better for us."
Urdiales said he takes about a significant hit when LSU plays at night. "Every LSU [night] game costs me a loss of $1,500 to $2,000 in sales. "I would rather lose $500 because of a 2:30 game rather than $1,500 to $2,000."
He also said grocery stores probably benefit more from a home game than restaurants in the area.
"One of the misconceptions people have about a 7 o'clock game is that it draws people to the area and they go out to eat. I beg to differ. What happens is you have 110,000 people descend on LSU's campus and the tailgating portion is the big factor. Where restaurants have lost revenue, grocery stores have picked up because tailgating is that big."
Even some in the fine dining sector see the difference. Cathy Cutrer, manager at Mansour's on the Boulevard, said the restaurant has seen a 25 to 30 percent increase in business on day-game weekends because of early starts.
"We've been doing record crowds on these day game weekends, We even have more people coming to the Sunday brunch, too."
Some restaurants, however, say see little change between day and night games. At TJ Ribs, general manager Jay Sullivan said he still sees the same crowds, just at different times.
Similarly, Tsunami claims a similar volume, night game or not.
"Actually, our business is the same, just changed hours," said Donovan DuPlantis, general manager. "More people come in and get an early lunch for night games. For day games we get that same kind of crowd at dinner."
DuPlantis added they see similar size crowds at dinner no matter the time. With a night game, the restaurant will still be booked in advance with reservations, whereas they will see more walk-up business.
The trend of increased crowds extends past Baton Rouge.
The early starting times have also provided more diners for restaurants in areas like Lafayette and New Orleans. Fans from those areas can drive home at a decent hour.
"As a businessman, I much prefer the day games," said Jude Andrepont, general manager at Landry's Seafood in Henderson, who has mixed feelings. "As a season-ticket holder, it's no fun."
Andrepont said while he gets decent business during night games, his traffic is much higher if LSU plays during the day.
"It's a different kind of business," Andrepont said. "For the night games, I'll usually have more bar business. With day games, I'll see more food business."
Errol Johnson, a server at Drago's in New Orleans, said he's seen about 50 percent more customers on days when LSU plays a day game rather than a night game.
"The game ends early and more people come out for dinner," Johnson said.