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Insights from Fort Collins restaurants during CSU winter break

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As the winter break swept across Colorado State University, the familiar hum of students dissipates, leaving the streets less crowded and the local businesses facing a distinctive shift. In this quieter period, three eateries stand resilient against the ever-changing tides of business.

These businesses include the warm haven of Spoons Soups, Salads & Sandwiches; Nick’s Restaurant & Bar, which specializes in hearty lunch options; and the sweet delights served up at Walrus Ice Cream. Each establishment boasts a unique strategy for overcoming seasonal challenges. These culinary spots not only cater to diverse tastes but also provide a glimpse into the dynamics of running a restaurant in a vibrant college town.

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Spoons Soups, Salads & Sandwiches

Alec Quintana is a general manager at Spoons Soups, Salads & Sandwiches. Quintana said that despite the colder weather, Spoons experienced a notable 12.5% increase in sales compared to the previous December.

Quintana said the absence of college students does not have a pronounced effect on their business. However, he acknowledged the impact of cold weather.

“Unless it’s cold like today or it’s snowy,” Quintana said. Spoons has seemingly found a winning formula, sustaining its business even when the academic year is on a break.

Nick’s Restaurant & Bar

Nick Doyle, the owner of Nick’s Restaurant & Bar, shared insights into the challenges faced during university breaks. With a focus on the lunchtime business, Doyle noted that the absence of CSU students impacts their operations. To counteract this, they offer a 25% discount to CSU students and staff year-round. 

January emerges as the slowest month, with notable business picking up in February. Doyle noted that it typically takes families some time to resume dining out after the holiday season — a trend commonly observed in the restaurant industry. This post-holiday period often sees a gradual return to regular dining habits, reflecting a temporary adjustment period for families before they return to their dining-out routines.

“The weather doesn’t help either,” Doyle said regarding the number of customers who go out to eat during the winter months. Doyle’s approach lies in adapting to the seasonality, offering incentives to the university community and gearing up for a busier season ahead.

Walrus Ice Cream

Maya Watkins, a manager at Walrus Ice Cream, observed a shift in the customer demographic during the college break. While there might be fewer college students, Watkins noted that the holidays remain a busy period. 

To offset the impact of reduced student presence, Walrus Ice Cream strategically targets Fort Collins residents with special promotions. Watkins mentioned Christmas-themed ice cream flavors like eggnog and peppermint that are designed to attract families and create a festive atmosphere. By diversifying their customer base, Walrus Ice Cream ensures a sweet success even in the face of seasonal challenges.

These Fort Collins eateries showcase the resilience and adaptability required to thrive in a college town. From Spoons’ consistent sales to Nick’s strategic discounts and Walrus Ice Cream’s festive offerings, each establishment navigates seasonal challenges with a unique approach. As these restaurants continue to evolve, their stories provide valuable insights for businesses seeking to flourish amidst changing demographics and weather patterns.

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Reach Kloe Brill at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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