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Will patrons heed call of football?
Local businesses look forward to fans this fall
Jeff Fockard takes some wings out of the kitchen on Friday at Wild Wings Cafe in Gainesville. The restaurant, like many in the area, expects an increase in business for the opening of University of Georgia’s football season today. - photo by Tom Reed

As the college football season ramps up, local business owners are counting on plenty of rambling and barking fans to ease their recession woes.

Local restaurants in particular hope to see football fans file through their doors to watch the games there.

"I think football is king and there’s no substitute for it," said Hudson Wilson, owner of Loco’s Grill in Gainesville.

Wilson said he increased staffing this weekend to prepare for crowds coming out to watch the University of Georgia play Oklahoma State.

"We always have great wing specials, which I think is good football food during any college or pro game," Wilson said. "Other than that we’ve got our TVs ready and we’re ready to go."

Heath Babb, general manager of Wild Wing Cafe in Gainesville, said his restaurant adds additional specials and incentives to bring in customers during football season.

"I think our game days are usually our best days," Babb said. "We really put a lot into our college game days."

Babb said this year they have specials on beer with a souvenir cup to take home as well as trivia after games on Thursdays and late night happy hours.

Restaurant owners say they hope fans will continue to be customers throughout the season, which lasts through February.

But how well the team does and where they play can affect attendance at local restaurants.

"The success of any team is congruent to how busy we are," Wilson said. "The better they do, the better we do."

Babb said with Gainesville being so close to Athens and Atlanta, many people have the opportunity to go to the football games.

"I know that most places, if you have home games, people are there," Babb said.

If they aren’t watching the game at the restaurant, business may still be up because of takeout orders.

Wilson said many people place large orders of chicken fingers, wings and sandwiches to bring to tailgates. But there isn’t a substitute for having people in the store to watch the game.

"Away games are better for business," Wilson said.