East Lansing gear up for big business over Rivalry Weekend

This Saturday, Michigan State Football plays its neighbor to the south – the University of Michigan. Businesses across East Lansing are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the season.

“So obviously it’s a much, much busier matchday because it’s our biggest rival,” Barrio manager Emma Tous said. “This year we’re not preparing as intensively as last year just because it’s an away game.”

Typically, the rivalry game brings in more revenue for East Lansing businesses, and although this year’s game is being held in Ann Arbor, they’re still expecting big crowds.

“Definitely expect more than typical away game just because I still think more people want to go out and party,” said Tous. “We expect it will look like a home game for one of the not so popular teams.”

As for prep, Tous said Barrio is staying smart and stocking up on extra liquor, food and staff to prepare for Saturday.

Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub has been gearing up for the weekend for several weeks now, adding Halloween decorations for the holidays and for fans, students and alumni in town for the game.

“I think every bar around you is going to get a big turnout,” said Harpers manager Hayden Thomas. “It’s the Michigan game, people want to go back to their alma mater.”

The whole weekend is usually busy for them and they expect a good atmosphere.

“It’s definitely a much busier weekend. Of course the students are out and about, it’s a great atmosphere to be here,” said Thomas. “Unfortunately, they will be in Ann Arbor this year. But next year it will be a great spot on campus for Michigan State.”

Thomas said they have prepared with the appropriate number of bartenders and staff and are ready for whatever comes their way.

Jolly Pumpkin, which opened in East Lansing in 2020, has yet to see an away game between Michigan State and Michigan, manager Tressa Harmon said.

“This year is an away game so we’re not sure how it’s going to be. But we’re usually very busy with away games because people want to see the game,” Harmon said. “That’s kind of what we expect.”

For big games like this, they have extra staff alongside all the managers. Staff working for the game usually work all day, so they are provided with food as well.

Jolly Pumpkin will be open for extra hands upstairs and downstairs with three bartenders, about eight waiters and food runners, according to Harmon.

“This is the big game. A lot of people will be in Ann Arbor, but the people who stay will definitely come to see the game,” Harmon said.

Jolly Pumpkin is also hosting a Rival for a Cause fundraiser in support of CS Mott Children’s Hospital. From now through the rest of October, every pint sold will donate $1 to Hail or Sparta, and the purchase of a $10 commemorative pin will donate $5 to the hospital.

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