So Carolina Family Weekend is a chance for students to catch up with their parents, show them around the campus and most importantly, as some students say, eat for free at some of the more expensive local restaurants.
"Right now I use the money on my ONE Card to eat," said Loren Renner, a freshman political science major. "Of course when (my parents) come, I tend to pick various restaurants on Franklin Street because I can't afford that stuff.
"I milk it for all its worth," she added.
Renner said that last week she went to Carolina Brewery with her mother and that this week she is planning on going to Top of the Hill.
With Family Weekend in full effect for the next few days, students might be foregoing the economically safe Cosmic Cantina, Pizza and Pasta, Peppers' Pizza or Hectors for more costly meals at places like 411 West and Michael Jordan's 23.
But Ray Braheny, manager of Peppers' Pizza, said his eatery, a popular student hangout, doesn't experience a slump in business when parents come to visit.
Owners say the crowded nature of the weekend allows profits for all businesses because families engage in a role reversal where parents do lunch with their children at their usual spots.
"When (students) take their parents to Top of the Hill or whatever, the kids will drag their parents here for lunch," Braheny said. "It's more of an overflow of people. We get a lot of business during that time."
Emily Baucom, a waitress at Crooks' Corner, said she knows busy weekends such a Family Weekend drew larger crowds. "People spend more money when families are in town," Baucom said.
Todd Cromer, manager of 411 West, said his business experiences an influx in patronage as well.
"We're a lot busier on those nights and a lot of times there'll be bigger groups of people -- a family from home and then roommates and suitemates come out in that group as well," he said.
Cromer said the restaurant caters to all groups of people throughout the year, including students and families.
"People tend to order nicer food and better bottles of wine because it certainly is a special occasion bringing groups back together like that," he said.
"Sales go up pretty dramatically," he said. "We don't really translate that as much but is is definitely noticeable."
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