With the flood of Gator fans and alumni during Homecoming comes an increase in local business along West University Avenue.
“Homecoming hits us like two gamedays back-to-back,” said Stephanie Comstock, the 31-year-old manager at the Swamp Restaurant. “Friday turns into a gameday because of Gator Growl, the basketball game and the parade.”
Comstock said the Swamp Restaurant plans to open at 9 a.m. Friday, which is two hours earlier than usual. They will also open one hour earlier than normal on gameday at 8 a.m.
The restaurant has prepared from every angle, Comstock said. The management has staffed accordingly, the kitchen has prepped food, and the waitresses have put out extra seating. It’s important to make sure the large crowds are fully accommodated, she said.
Comstock said the restaurant also plans to put bleachers in front so children can have a better view of the parade.
“Our staff just gets really pumped to have everyone here,” Comstock said.
EndZone Bar and Grill and Midtown Mochi will also be opening earlier.
Mike Campbell, EndZone’s manager, said people love to sit on the restaurant’s patio during the parade.
The University Avenue Mochi has stocked more yogurt than usual, including mango and blueberry flavors to represent the Gator orange and blue, said Kristen Rahall, a 23-year-old UF student and manager of Mochi.
“It’s just so heartbreaking to see the little kids knocking on the door if we wait to open later,” Rahall said. “We really want to coordinate with the festivities, since they are going on all around us. It’s important to get everyone in the spirit of homecoming.”
Comstock said she is excited for the weekend because it is something she and her business have looked forward to.
“We’re smack-dab in the middle of it all,” Comstock said. “It’s our job to extend that Homecoming feeling to everybody.”