No Gators on big screen? Usual hot spots cool during BCS Game


Two movie-goers stand in front of the Regal Cinemas 14 in Butler Plaza during the BCS National Championship Game on Monday night. Many of Gainesville's popular hangouts were nearly empty during the football game.

MARVIN HALELAMIEN/Special to The Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

The stores, small restaurants and coffee shops along Archer Road that usually bustle with student patrons were as quiet and empty as a ghost town Monday.

At the Cold Stone Creamery on Archer, which is usually packed with customers on a school night, the sign posted on the dark window said it all: "Closing today at 5 p.m. Go Gators!"

On the west side of town, business was virtually nonexistent after 8 p.m. as the Gators prepared to face off with the Ohio State Buckeyes for the much-anticipated BCS National Championship Game.

Except for the restaurants with TVs, there were few, if any, customers at some of Gainesville's most popular hangouts — a stark contrast to the University of Florida campus and the bustling bars and restaurants on W. University Avenue.

At the Starbucks on Archer Road near SW 34th Street, only four customers were in the coffee shop.

"Usually the tables are full here," said frequent customer and UF student Catherine Woodworth. "It was a shock to actually get a parking spot. I feel kind of pathetic being the only person that's not in front of a TV right now."

Starbucks barista Kerri Duffield, 23, said the store was staying open for normal business hours, but some workers would probably go home early.

"We'd usually be packed the first day back," Duffield said, noting that UF classes resumed for the spring semester Monday. "We expect it's going to be really slow."

In the same plaza, a near-empty Moe's Southwest Grill closed early at 8:30 p.m. — much to the relief of some of the staff, said John Banker, shift supervisor.

"Everyone here is anxious to get home and watch the game," Banker said.

For movie aficionados, Monday would've been a great time to get prime seats without waiting in lines or jostling with other movie-goers.

The Regal Cinemas 14 theater in Butler Plaza, which was open as usual, was lifeless Monday night. A small contingent of employees huddled around a radio to hear the game while an employee manning the box office sat on a stool waiting for customers. The theater's parking lot was barely half full.

Gainesville Police Lt. Lonnie Scott said at 10 p.m. that things seemed to be running smoothly and there were few calls outside the downtown and campus areas.

At Barnes and Noble Booksellers in the plaza, it was also quiet. Sarah Hensley, assistant manager, said a slump in business was expected, so employees were allowed to wear jeans.

One customer, Bob Stahmann, who was sporting a Gators sweatshirt, emerged from the store with two bags of books. Stahmann said he planned on calling it an early night and that he was recording the game on his DVR at home.

"Besides," Stahmann said, "I'm too intense of a Gator fan to watch it tonight if we're doing bad."

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