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The Daily Tar Heel

Most Hot Spots Booked for Graduation Weekend

Family and friends of graduating seniors might be out of luck if they have not yet secured a place to stay or dine during graduation weekend.

Most hotel managers and restaurant owners said they were completely booked for the weekend of graduation on May 16.

"We sold out the day after graduation last year," said Carolina Inn reservations manager Robert Perinka.

Perinka said rooms went on sale each year at 9 a.m. the day after graduation and usually sold out that day.

"I tell everyone who calls me to just call at 9 a.m., grab a drink and be ready to wait for a while," he said. "Just keep redialing because if you don't get through that day, you probably won't get a room."

The Carolina Inn has a three-night minimum stay policy during graduation weekend, which is standard for most area hotels.

Another typical trend is increased rates during graduation weekend, said Kal Amin, assistant manager of Days Inn on U.S. 15-501 Bypass.

"We do raise prices a little, but in comparison to other places, we don't raise them that much,"he said.

Amin said Days Inn had a two-night minimum policy and had been booked since it first opened in February.

"Next year, in order to make it fair for everyone, we may set a date that we start taking reservations, but we won't know that until after graduation."

Best Western University Inn, which began taking reservations June 1 but still has a handful of vacancies for graduation, offers a three-night minimum package, said General Manager Jared Dawson.

The hotel had three to five vacancies for the weekend, he said Wednesday.

"In terms of this being our busiest time of year, it will be, although this year the Special Olympics and U.S. Open will also give us some good business."

Tommy O'Connell, general manager of Four Eleven West, said the Italian eatery did not accept reservations but would stay open for dinner from noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. "Saturday night is the busiest night for us,"he said. "The wait, which is usually 45 minutes to an hour, dramatically increases."

O'Connell said crowds had been worse in the past because Duke University and UNC held graduation on the same day, which had been Mother's Day.

However, some hotel managers said graduation was not necessarily their busiest time. Larry Letter, general manager of the Comfort Inn on Mt. Moriah Road, said the football season brought the most visitors to his hotel.

A limited number of rooms were available Friday before graduation, but Saturday was booked. He said the Comfort Inn's two-night minimum policy had left room openings for Friday.

"Since some people opted to go with Saturday and Sunday, that left Friday open," he said.

Letter said since most rooms had been booked since February, people should call six months in advance.

Steve Krans, general manager of the Carolina Brewery, said the eatery was taking a limited number of reservations, most of which were already filled. He said 30 percent of the facility was set aside for reservations and the rest would be available for walk-ins.

He said people began requesting reservations in January, but he could not confirm them until February.

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"Graduation is absolutely one of our busiest times,"he said. "But it has gotten better since it is not on Mother's Day anymore."

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