Area restaurants once again expect to see green from the annual influx of golf patrons in town for the Masters.
At Wild Wing Cafe, sales for April typically double because of Masters-related foot traffic that week, said owner and operator Tricie Scholer.
“That tells you what one week can do to a month,” she said. “Hands down, every day next week is the best day of the year.”
To prepare, Scholer doubles her servers and bartenders, ups her food orders and triples the amount of alcohol for those seven days. An outdoor seating area is added, and bands play both inside and outside the Washington Road establishment.
“It really, really helps us a lot,” Scholer said of the extra business. “It doesn’t pay off our bills for the year, but it helps us recover a little bit of our losses.”
Bistro 491, a Surrey Center restaurant just minutes from Augusta National Golf Club, starts taking reservations from Masters diners as early as Jan. 2, owner Todd Schafer said.
“People will wait, though,” he said. “It seems like on Wednesday through Saturday, we’re not putting the last meals out of the kitchen until
after midnight sometimes.”
In addition to adding about 15 people to the regular staff, Schafer said he places more expensive food orders so he can serve the finest dishes to his guests.
Schafer was expecting a $14,000 meat delivery Friday that would get him through the first part of the week. To offset that cost, he’ll likely raise prices slightly.
Schafer likened every night of Masters Week to Valentine’s Day.
“It’s a great bonus for everyone that works here,” he said. “It’s really a hard week, but everybody makes good money.”
The same is true at both TBonz Steakhouse locations in Augusta and Evans, said assistant general manager Suzanne Sinisgalli.
“This is a nice little time where it’s like a bonus week for us, but trust me, we’re working for it,” she said. “It doesn’t come as easy, but it’s definitely important.”
She said Masters preparation starts in January, with alcohol deliveries coming in three weeks ago.
“That liquor cooler is beyond packed,” she said. “The food order is probably the most expensive of the year that any restaurant makes.”
Revenue coming in that one week is equal to what the restaurant does in a normal month or two, Sinisgalli said.
The Augusta location at 2856 Washington Road has been open since 1986 and features outdoor oyster servers, cocktail waitresses, live music and a mini golf hole to make wait times seem less long. It typically is a little more crowded then the Evans restaurant, which opened in 2012 in North Belair Square.
“We tell people, if you don’t like the big, big crowds, go to Evans,” Sinisgalli said.
The financial rewards are felt by restaurants and hospitality-based businesses as far as 60 miles from Augusta, said Barry White, the president and CEO of the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“The week is often referred to (as) a ‘13th month of revenue,’” he said.
Fat Man’s Mill Cafe & Catering will take its Masters meals on wheels this year. Havird Usry, its vice president of operations and development, will both cater and serve concessions at two Masters events, Rock Fore! Dough and the Major Rager, out of his new food truck equipped with an industrial kitchen. He also might drum up more business by parking the truck in front of bars for after-hours customers.
“We might do some late-night gigs too if we’ve got any energy left,” he said.