Downtown Restaurants Feel the Rush From UVA Graduation
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - University of Virginia students and their families descended on the Charlottesville Downtown Mall to celebrate the first night of graduation. For most eateries Downtown, Saturday night was all hands on deck. NBC29’s Carly Kempler got a behind the scenes look at how they prepare for one of the biggest nights of the year.
It was a packed house at Prime 109, one of the Downtown Mall's newest eateries.
“This is a really big night for us it's a chance for us to sell a lot of stuff like prime rib and a lot of filets and ribeyes,” said Ian Redshaw, executive chef of Prime 109.
It was the restaurant's first time handling the rush of UVA graduation.
“We’ve been receiving reservations for about the last 3 months and it's been booked out for the last 2 months,” said Redshaw.
Earlier in the afternoon, waiters were busy folding napkins, preparing food and making sure everything was just right for the big night.
“We have everybody on deck, we have all of the owners in house we have all of the chefs working really hard almost all day so that we can put out the food that all of the graduates deserve,” said Redshaw.
The Downtown Mall swells with graduation parties, and it becomes one of the biggest nights for the city's restaurant scene.
“It’s something that we plan for well in advance it's like having a big wedding and we really enjoy kind of being a part of the celebrations for the weekend,” said Greg Vogler, manager at Hamiltons’.
Hamiltons’ at first and main is a veteran when it comes to planning for the big weekend.
“We've been lucky to be here for 23 years now and graduation is every year,” said Vogler.
Some of the restaurants treat this weekend like Black Friday, as they prepare for a slower season after students and faculty leave for the summer.
“Our business is integrated with the goings on at UVA as the students leave we all feel the change that happens in the Charlottesville community,” said Vogler.
“We don't think that the students leaving will be a huge impact, but they're definitely somebody that we like to have in every once in a while and the UVA faculty has been really great to us over the last year,” said Redshaw.
UVA graduation festivities will continue into Sunday and some restaurants said they are booked up for Sunday brunch.