Working Athens’ Halloween: a restaurant perspective

Athens’ Halloween weekend typically brings in thousands to the city. As Court Street fills up, restaurant and bar lines are out the door. But does everyone benefit from the influx of people? People behind counter talk about what it’s like to work on block party night.

Preparing for the big night

Cynthia Abdul-Kabir is a manager at Insomnia Cookies. She has served the Halloween Block Party crowd baked goods for the past three years.

The block party is the biggest event that OU hosts each year. Just on the Facebook page, more than 1,500 people have said they were attending in 2015. Previous year’s reports tally in at 15 to 20,000 attendees.

During the festivities, Insomnia Cookies has a steady customer base, considering that they are open until 3 am. Abdul-Kabir said that the hot spot hours are from 9 pm to 11 pm when waves of people start coming in.

Because Insomnia Cookies is not a sit-down restaurant, space can sometimes be an issue.

“Last year, I worked during the day. Most of the day it was just starting up, but right around my closing time people were squeezing to get in,” she said.

Preparations for the big event started back in August.

“No one gets to call off [work]. We also try to let them [the staff] know that it’s going to be big waves and lots of people all night long,” she said.

Mainly, Abdul-Kabir has been working to prepare the drivers, since the restaurant typically delivers all night. Typically, drivers are sent out in the beginning of the night but once it gets too crazy delivers have to shut down.

“We can’t get our drivers off of Court Street. Even just to walk it takes too long,” she said.

Athens’ Halloween Block Party 2014

“It’s a blurry, loud and wild night,”
Abdul-Kabir said.


Dressing the part

For sit-down restaurants, like Jackie O’s business feels like normal, except that the customer base and staff might come dressed in fairy wings or donning a fake mustache.

Isaac Noland at Jackie O’s

Isaac Noland is a master’s journalism student at Ohio University, he worked part-time at Jackie O’s for two years, until the fire on Union Street closed the kitchen while the business made repairs. During his time at Jackie O’s, he worked in the kitchen for three Halloween Block Parties.

“Working in the restaurant end is not terrible because a lot of people don’t want to eat in their costumes. The bars can be really busy but food wise it’s not that bad at night,” he said.

The biggest challenge for Noland and others working Halloween Block Party night is having to miss out on the fun. Noland commented that it’s challenging sometimes to be working an event and not being able to partake in it, but at least he was able to dress up as Bob from Bob’s Burgers last year.


Phillip Szczepanski behind the counter at O’Betty’s

“It’s just another shift,” said Phillip Szczepanski, who is a manager at O’Betty’s Red Hot!

Szczepanski said that block party night is busy, but he’s seen worse.

“It’s a little slower than Homecoming Night, which is easily is one of the busiest nights of the year, but Halloween is right up there,” he said.

At O’Betty’s Red Hot! around 50% more supplies are ordered beforehand and everything is set-up for when the night crew gets in.


 Vandalism and loitering

While most of the restaurants and bars are open late, Donkey Coffee closes early—at 6 pm.

Chris Pyle has been the owner of Donkey Coffee for the past 13 years. He discovered that the increase in business just led to an increase in loitering and theft.

Halloween in Athens does have a reputation for getting rowdy. Most arrests are for disorderly conduct.

“We were open the first two years, but it was basically 200 people in here and no one was buying anything. They were just using the bathrooms and we had tons of stuff stolen and ruined,” he said.

Top 7 relationships in Athens, Ohio

We have all heard about the Hollywood celebrity dating scene, but I bet you didn’t know we have our own celebrity couples in Athens, Ohio. The rich and famous have made their way to our college town and I bet you run into them more than you think. That’s right, I’m talking about the bars and restaurants that are open after dark. We crowd them, take pictures, and follow their every move. You have been so focused on your favorite that I’m sure you haven’t noticed that they are all secretly in relationships. It’s true, and we have the inside scoop for you!


Jackie-O’s and Uptown Grill

Let’s start with two of the most famous establishments in Athens, Jackie-O’s and Uptown Grill. These love birds have been eyeing each other from across the street for years. After hanging out, listening to music, and enjoying the unique beers Jackie-O’s has, you can walk down the street and order the famous Chicken and Waffle sandwich. This is one couple you do not want to mess with.


Big Mamma’s Burritos and Casa Nueva

Big Mamma’s Burritos and Casa Nueva is one couple that is juat too hot to ignore. They are both so bold, but together would be a powerhouse. If you start to get hungry after too many margaritas, your next stop should be Big Mamma’s for one of their signature burritos. While there is a separation between them, these star crossed lovers can’t be separated. Te amo!


Broney’s Alumni Grill and D.P. Dough

Our next couple may be long distance, but Broney’s Alumni Grill and D.P. Dough will always be close at heart. With the word “alumni” in the name, it’s safe to assume that a lot of alums visit while reliving their glory days. Since they are veterans, they know how to beat the hangovers. They can order their calzones and meet it in the hotel, just in time for bed!


Tony’s and Insomnia Cookies

What is better than cookies and coffee? Nothing. Tony’s and Insomnia Cookies is a match made in Heaven. After drinking a Hot Nut, a mixture of coffee and liquor, the only thing that would make your night better would be a warm cookie! The best part is that Insomnia is open until 3 am, so you can pick it up on your way home!


Pigskin and Kisers on Court BBQ

Life would be a “boar” without Pigskin and Kiser’s BBQ together. This relationship was a no brainer. Nothing goes together like beer, BBQ, and country music. These two have just that! Kiser’s on Court is now open until 3 am on Friday and Saturday. This combination would be the perfect “cure” for any weekend night!


Union Street Diner, Cat’s Den, and The Smiling Skull

Here in Athens, Ohio, we don’t judge. When we heard that Union Street Dinner, Cat’s Den, and The Smiling Skull were in a relationship together, we welcomed them with open arms. All three of these places are located on Union Street and you can’t have one without the other. While these bars are considered “townie” bars, students just can’t resist them. After listening to the music and sitting on the patio, the only other logical stop would be the dinner. Thankfully it’s open 24/7.


Buffalo Wild Wings

And, of course, there’s always that one friend that will fall into the “forever alone” category. That friend is Buffalo Wild Wings. This restaurant serves food and alcohol late into the night. Between the beer, wings, and giant TV’s, why would you need anything else? Don’t worry BW3’s; we still love you!

Since the lifestyles of the rich and famous are constantly changing, what relationships are your favorites? Comment below and tell us your favorite duo in Athens, Ohio. You never know who might be next!

All photos and graphics of Athens, Ohio were taken and made by Hannah Funderburg