Athens offers a number of local restaurants that many students frequent on their late nights out.
Ohio University alumna Alison Grossman said before she graduated in 2014 she would go out three or more times a week. Most of those times – she estimated around 75 percent – she would look forward to ending the night with food.
Grossman isn’t alone in the instinct to head Uptown to fulfill late-night food cravings. GoodFella’s worker Leah Diedrick estimates that more than 90 percent of late-night customers come in drunk.
Late-night drunk clientele present business opportunities to Uptown eateries that keep their doors open past midnight or later. However, workers have some interesting stories to share about their more-intoxicated customers.
“Most of the time customers aren’t so bad, but we have had someone start to head butt people in line so we had to kick them out,” said Diedrick, a junior studying anthropology. “Another time, someone reached into their bra and tried to pay me with gum. I was like, that’s not money.”
Intoxication can be linked to an increased level of hunger, according to a 2004 study by the University of Liverpool.
Big Mamma’s Burritos manager Levi Bebout said uptown businesses work together to keep the weekenders of Athens fed and happy.
“We’re kind of a band of brothers, the late night eateries,” Bebout said.
Another Big Mamma’s manager Jade Underwood, who estimates about 99 percent of her late-night customers are intoxicated, said she has witnessed everything from drinking from the pop machines without a cup, to stealing stools to even throwing their burritos at workers, she said.
“Someone tried to make their own art on that painting over there,” Vincent Moreland, employee at Big Mamma’s, added from behind the counter as he beckons to framed artwork on the wall. “They took their burrito and like, drew something with the contents of the inside.”
Shenanigans aside, late night hours come with the promise of increased business.
“When there are thousands of drunk people meandering through the streets, people need food at that hour,” Bebout said. “Our business reflects that.”
Bebout added the eatery, 10 S. Court St., sees its biggest increase of business after midnight.
To speed up delivery time and keep customers from getting rowdy, GoodFella’s, 6 W. Union St., limits its menu on late nights to only offer cheese and pepperoni.
“We need to keep our options limited for drunk people,” Diedrick said.
Tim Buck, a server at Union Street Diner, 70 W. Union St., said in a previous Post article he doesn’t mind dealing with intoxicated customers, viewing it as a challenge that allows him to be more personable with patrons.
Uptown Grill — or as it’s affectionately called by patrons, “Chicken-n-Waffles” — sees the majority of its business during prime party nights.
According to manager Kaylee Perkins, the business, located at 11 W. Union St., typically sees 10 times the amount of business on the weekend as they do on weekdays.
“I’ve seen lines down the street... like 30 yards,” Perkins said.
The line isn’t so long, she said, when it’s snowing or raining.
Despite the fact that wait times can be daunting, some look on them as a opportunity; one of Grossman’s favorite memories from her time at OU, she said, was the general camaraderie in the long lines at Big Mamma’s.
Although she said the effects on her body from nights of unhealthy choices were never positive, Grossman added she found ways to make her drunk-binging habit more realistic.
“If I had junk food the night before, I would go and work out the next day to try to balance it out because it adds up quickly,” she said. “By the time I got to my senior year, I was more financially aware of my situation so I would have leftovers from my cooking when I came home.”
Grossman said she doesn’t have a single regret about the high amount of drunk food that she ate in Athens. As she pursues graduate school in Columbia, South Carolina, she is disappointed that the only late-night junk food available is Jimmy John’s.
“Any meals I had in Athens I wouldn’t take back,” she said. “You just can’t go to Wendy’s or the chain restaurants. You have to experience Athens in a full environment, and that is Big Mamma’s and GoodFella’s.”