As Picnic Day approaches, local businesses prepare for students, families and alumni to swarm the campus and downtown areas.
For Soga’s, there will be an increase in staff, and the restaurant will open 11 a.m. on Saturday instead of its usual 5 p.m. opening time.
“It’s the Mother’s Day for the bar,” said Soga’s manager Cliff Mohr. “If you know what Mother’s Day is like for restaurants, that’s what it’s like for the bar.”
Since 90 percent of customers are college students coming into the bar, business will be extremely busy, Mohr said.
For businesses such as Soga’s, the Graduate, Chipotle and other bars and restaurants alike, “that’s one of the busiest days we have of the year,” Mohr said.
The Davis Downtown Business Associationconducted a survey among its membership a month ago to find out more about the Picnic Day experience.
“We did the survey in hopes of having an impact,” said DDBA administrator Joy Cohan. “We are having a dialogue with our members to continue to enhance the impact Picnic Day has upon downtown.”
The DDBA is working on enhancements for this year and long term to continue those efforts to 2009 and beyond, Cohan said.
Bob Bowen, public relations manager for city of Davis and former 1974 Picnic Day board member, said city retailers report a quiet day, especially in the later afternoon when the parade through campus and downtown is over.
Business can also be a direct result of the weather, especially for ice cream shops such as Baskin Robbins and Ben and Jerry’s. When 40,000 to 50,000 people descend upon the campus, traffic and accommodations are also impacted.
“Picnic Day is usually responsible for filling up most of our 640 hotel rooms in Davis,” Bowen said. “There is a close to 100 percent occupancy with hotel rooms because people come from out of town. Sometimes people who have been admitted come to Picnic Day.”
Best Western University Lodge has been fully booked since January. The rate for their 52 rooms for that weekend is $209. Their regular rate is about half that price.
Bowen said the city does get a bump in revenue.
“When people do stay in our hotels, there is a transient occupancy tax which the city gets,” Bowen said. “When the hotels are full, that benefits the city, and some money goes to help pay for police, roads, programs and marketing down the line.”
In addition to revenue impacts, the amount of people in the city raises safety concerns. To keep the festivities under control, the Davis Police Department is working with the UCD Police Department and the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department for additional staffing. Volunteers and the traffic unit will be on hand to make sure the parade transitions smoothly from campus to the city.
“We have just about everybody working. Basically it’s a huge staffing getting lots of people out in the area,” said Colleen Turay, patrol lieutenant for the DPD.
The DPD is using separate teams for the downtown bar area and residential parties, as complaints are made.
“We don’t just go looking for them in their homes,” Turay said. “We go by response. We can’t look for noise complaint – there has to be a private citizen who is bothered by the noise.”
Alcohol and drug enforcement will be in effect.
“On Picnic Day, we have a zero tolerance for alcohol violations. We enforce alcohol ordinances and noise ordinances,” Turay said. “We want to keep parties reasonable, and we want people to have fun, but we want to maintain safety.”
City Councilmember Stephen Souza emphasized the importance of having police officers on hand to make sure the roadways are safely controlled.
“We want to make sure activities are kept to minimum disturbance,” he said. “We want people to have a great time, but not to wander around to create damage to community members.”
City councilmembers are individually involved in campus and community events,but preparation occurs on a larger scale on campus and throughout the community.
“Picnic day is perhaps the busiest day of the year in the city of Davis. There are thousands of people scattered throughout town, on sidewalks and on lawns,” said City Councilmember Lamar Heystek. “I really enjoy Picnic Day. You get to see a lot of people you know. Sometimes people have parties on their front lawns, but it is important that people keep alcohol and litter on their lawns and not on public property.”
POOJA KUMAR can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.