The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday June 3rd

Homegrown Halloween has hurt the profits of Franklin Street bars

For local business owner Kyle Heath, Halloween used to be the most profitable night of the year — rivaled only by a national championship.

But since Chapel Hill implemented Homegrown Halloween in 2008 as an effort to return the Franklin Street Halloween celebration to its community roots, he said profits have declined — and he is concerned this year will continue the trend.

The regulations, designed after 80,000 people gathered downtown in 2007, have created a conflict between public safety concerns and economic prosperity.

“It was insane before the changes — in a good way,” said Heath, co-owner of Jack Sprat Cafe.

Heath said he thinks Homegrown Halloween slows down business because potential customers leave the area when police clear the streets.

But he said he and other businesses negotiated the restrictions with the town because they recognize the dangers larger crowds posed. Businesses participate voluntarily, and police do not enforce the requirements.

Businesses that serve alcohol are encouraged to charge a $5 cover fee and restrict alcohol sales starting at 1 a.m.

Michael Meadows, general manager of Linda’s Restaurant and Bar, said customers have told him they are deterred by the regulations.

Meadows said business suffers because they aren’t supposed to let customers in after 1 a.m., which is the beginning of one of their busiest periods of the night.

Although the restrictions may reduce profits for bars, restaurants that don’t sell alcohol benefit from customers who want late-night food after bars close, said Myung Dixon, manager of Pita Pit.

This Halloween, Pita Pit will stay open until 2 a.m. and expects more business than usual, she said.

Jason King, general manager at Qdoba, said revenue on Halloween is still three to five times higher than an average day.

He said the restaurant normally brings in $3,000 to $5,000 daily, but on Halloween, profits can reach $15,000.

However, for some businesses, the hassle of dealing with the Halloween crowd is not worth staying open.

In a 2008 survey completed by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, 17 downtown Chapel Hill businesses reported that Halloween had a negative impact on their revenue, while 14 reported a positive impact.

Melanie Knox, shift supervisor at Caribou Coffee, said they close early because people coming in only want to use the bathrooms, often to vomit.

She also said that crowds and restricted parking on Halloween night make it difficult for her employees to leave — motivating her to close shop.

“That’s a night we choose to take our employees out of the equation,” she said.

Gregory Smith, co-owner of BSki’s Tortilla Wrap Grill, said they also close early on Halloween because of loitering and non-customers using the bathroom.

Although he said he has noticed an improvement since Homegrown Halloween was implemented and is considering staying open later next year, he thinks the situation could be handled differently.

“What they’re doing is helping,” he said. “But it seems like there could be other measures taken that are better for the students, locals and businesses.”

Contact the City Editor

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


The Daily Tar Heel Women's Tennis Victory Paper

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive