GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Downtown Grand Rapids restaurants want to keep ArtPrize's momentum going as business keeps growing. Several restaurants are seeing record numbers this year.
That's because this year, restaurants are more ready. During the first ArtPrize in 2009, huge crowds were unexpected and some eateries ran out of food. But those times are gone. Downtown restaurants now know what to expect: huge crowds.
Restaurant staff that 24 Hour News 8 spoke to on Thursday said they are seeing double-digit gains in business compared to ArtPrize 2011.
"It's certainly a rush," said Justin Marion, the manger of San Chez Bistro on Fulton Street.
There is busy -- and then there is ArtPrize busy.
"It definitely is our busiest time of the year," said San Chez Bistro hostess Kate McIntosh.
McIntosh is learning firsthand how to handle the rush during her first ArtPrize at San Chez Bistro -- comfortable shoes and adequate sleep are what get her through the day.
"You hear horror stories about and they get you really frightened for it," she said.
But she's holding up fine -- and so are most restaurants, like Peppino's on Ionia Avenue.
"For the bottom line, I think the sales have been great," said Eric Tuinstra of Peppino's.
Peppino's staff is one of several restaurants that 24 Hour News 8 spoke with that has seen more than a 10% increase in business compared to ArtPrize 2011.
Business increases between ArtPrize 2011 and ArtPrize 2012:
- San Chez: UP 11%
- Peppino's: UP 12%
- Hop Cat: UP 20%
- Stella's: UP 30%
Meanwhile, for restaurant staff, the surge in customers and the all-day scramble to keep service moving can be taxing.
Voting for the winner of ArtPrize 2012 ended at 11:59 p.m. Thursday and the winner will be announced Friday evening. ArtPrize officially lasts until Sunday, so the nearly three-week rush is one weekend away from relaxation.
"Everybody's ready for a break," said Marion. "There's no doubt about that."
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