It has been a tough couple of weeks for some restaurant staples in Blacksburg. You might be surprised to hear Log Cabin BBQ owner Brett Wolfe say football has had an impact on his decision to close for good this Saturday.
"The impact had a lot to do with the football schedule," Wolfe said. "Times of kickoffs didn't help us much, which really hurt our bottom line."
This past season, the Hokies kicked off many of their home games early, meaning less time for catered tailgates. When you pair that with students heading home for the summer, it is not good for the business' bottom line. But restaurants like Gillie's have been serving customers for decades downtown.
"A little bit of luck and when things get tough we just work a lot harder," said Renee Gillie. "I work longer hours."
Leaders with Downtown Blacksburg, Inc., say they are planning another Restaurant Week this summer, as well as cash mobs to help drive in locals when the students ship out for summer.
"We're always trying to get people to find those slightly hidden locations and become familiar with the whole downtown footprint," said Laureen Blakemore.
At least one restaurant owner found opening in a nearby community worked better for his business. Chris McMurray opened Crumb and Get It in Radford last summer. He says his visibility on Main Street and lower costs have helped him since he left Blacksburg five years ago.
"We did take what we learned from our Blacksburg experience and applied it to what we've done here in Radford," McMurray said. "We've resurfaced smarter, a leaner company, just a lot better."
But despite the recent restaurant closures, leaders are expected to break ground on an IMAX theater with a restaurant this summer, and Mellow Mushroom is working on securing the right location for their pizzeria downtown.