Originally created 03/17/04

Irish buys cause smilin'

There won't be any real leprechauns running around town today, but there may be a pot of gold for some local businesses.

St. Patrick's Day festivities and celebrations will keep grocery stores, delis, bars and restaurants busy catering to customers looking for Irish meals and green beer.

"We'll sell a lot of corned beef and cabbage," said Tom Curry, assistant manager at The Fresh Market on Washington Road. Mr. Curry said his store normally runs through eight to 10, 30-pound cases of corned beef for traditional St. Paddy's Day meals - the store normally sells one case a week.

Publix spokeswoman Brenda Reid said the grocery store plans to sell plenty of green cupcakes, Irish soda bread, greeting cards and decorations. The company also is bringing in potted shamrocks and putting their Guinness beer on sale.

Bars and restaurants expect to capitalize on the day, too.

At Squeaky's Tip Top on Central Avenue, owner Linda Rhodes is expanding the menu to include Irish stew and corned beef and is discounting Irish beers, even though she doesn't know what the crowd will be like.

"We always get our regulars," said Michele Shaumann, Ms. Rhodes' daughter. "But the crowd varies. Sometimes its really big, and sometimes not so much so."

Still, the bar and grill is extending its hours and is open all day today instead of closing during the afternoon, as it usually does.

Firehouse Bar on Broad Street likely will open early too, but the bar won't be serving green beer.

"We tried green beer in the past, and we ended up serving it for a month," said Josh Williamson, the bar's owner. "Most of our customers are going to drink what they drink whether it's St. Patrick's Day or not."

But the St. Patrick's Day celebrations don't bring good news for everyone.

Luanne Hildebrandt, the owner of Hildebrandt's Food Store on Sixth Street, used to spice up her deli sandwiches with green mayonnaise and mustard. But since the downtown parade was moved from Sixth Street, she hasn't been able to take advantage of the celebrations.

On Monday, she had received only 15 to 20 orders for corned beef sandwiches - a good sandwich day is 50 to 60 orders. She hopes orders pick up today.

"I know I'll have to have corned beef sandwiches ready that morning," she said.

Reach James Gallagher at (706) 823-3227 or james.gallagher@augustachronicle.com.


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