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Restaurant draws more customers than before

POSTED: July 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Skogie's employees Deko Harris, left, and Kyle Jarrard, prepare vegetables Thursday at the restaurant.

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Many local businesses have had to adapt to survive the low water levels on Lake Lanier. But Skogie's restaurant has evolved so well, in fact, that it's expanding.

"Our business is good," Skogie's owner Rick Skoglund said. "Our business is so good we're going to open another location now."

The new Skogie's will open year-round on the square in downtown Gainesville beginning this September, Skoglund said.

Skoglund has seen a complete shift in the type of customers who frequent his seasonal restaurant at Gainesville Marina.

"Last year, we might do 70 percent lake business and 30 percent road, but it's flip-flopped," Skoglund said. "We're probably doing 70 percent of our business off the road."

Skoglund said he was convinced last year that this summer would be tough for business. But in the spring, he said he realized while at a church service that if he had faith, everything would be fine.

"Before we opened this year I was thinking, ‘well, it's a year to survive.' I was planning on just making it through the summer, kind of bare minimum. I left (church) thinking that I just needed to put my faith in the Lord that our business would be good," Skoglund said.

"We decided to make some improvements this year actually to the building ... and just geared up for a busy summer and we've been pushed to our limits."

Skoglund's rationale for his restaurant's success this year is simple: He offers food that people like.
"I think we got a good product, and the word's gotten out we got good food here," Skoglund said.

In past summers, Skoglund said his eatery did much more business from the docks because people would often boat up to the restaurant.

"It's noticeably changed. The majority of our lake business this year is just coming from people that live on the lake rather than the weekend boaters," he said. "We used to do a lot more delivery business to the docks, people that were staying on their boats. They might stay the week, or they'd stay several days. The marina tenants aren't coming to the lake like they used to in previous years."

People still are using the courtesy dock Skogie's provides for patrons to leave their boats while they dine. But if the water level continues to drop at the current rate, people won't be able to use it. But Skoglund said with so few of his customers coming by boat and other docking options available, it probably won't affect his business much.

"Probably within the next two weeks if the lake continues to drop we'll lose the ability to dock at our courtesy dock. If we don't have rain, we lose an inch a day," he said.



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