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Several Columbus retailers, restaurants and hotels, especially those in downtown, are preparing for Saturday’s inaugural Mill Race Marathon with additional staff, longer opening hours — and lots and lots of ice.
Cindy Waddle, general manager of Hotel Indigo, said that to get some tips on preparing for the occasion, her staff called a Boston hotel that sits near the start and finish of the Boston Marathon, and employees there gave lots of good advice but stressed: Have lots of ice for cool beverages and sore muscles.
The Indigo, whose 85 rooms are fully booked Thursday and Friday, will provide runners with some welcome bags that will include ice packs. The hotel also is renting an ice chest to prepare for the onslaught. Waddle said 25 percent of the rooms on Thursday and 71 percent of those on Friday are occupied because of the marathon. However, 55 percent of the hotel’s rooms are booked for Saturday, she added. Last year for the same weekend, about 20 percent of the hotel’s rooms were vacant.
Beyond fully booked rooms, Waddle said she expects even more demand for food and drink on Saturday morning.
“We are being as prepared as we possibly can be, and we want to foster an positive guest experience for all the spectators that stop by,” Waddle said. “It is basically an all-hands-on-deck staffing mentality.”
“We’re going to see a huge impact,” she added. “I think it’ll be great.”
Bistro 310 employees, meanwhile, are preparing for the storm on ice by emptying its ice machines into tubs to carry the ice cubes into the restaurant’s walk-in freezer — and to repeat the process in the days leading up to the marathon.
For the first time on a Saturday, the restaurant will open at 8 a.m. and serve breakfast and lunch. The Bistro usually serves only dinner on Saturdays.
General manager Liz Bohall said the Bistro will have a tent on its patio to serve dishes including breakfast wraps, pancakes, sausage, biscuits and lots of coffee.
Bohall said that she hopes spectators will mill around downtown and open their wallets for food and drink. Because the event is new, she said, the financial impact is difficult to predict.
For dinner, the Bistro also will try something new: Guests will be able to choose from a smaller menu, which will include some special items, and sit down for two-, three- or four-course dinners at 5, 7 or 9 p.m.
“We are using every employee we have plus extras,” Bohall said. “It should be one of the biggest days we’ve ever had.”
Zaharakos will welcome the morning crowds with a breakfast buffet from 8 to 11 a.m., banquet manager Jill Anderson said. The ice cream parlor typically opens at 11 a.m. She said that outside the store, Zaharakos will set up a booth to sell items such as ice cream and hot dogs.
The Comfort Inn on Jonathan Moore Pike is fully booked Friday night, general manager Jeri Roberts said. Compared with the same time last year, business has improved, she said.
Roberts estimated that about a dozen of its 75 rooms were reserved by runners or marathon spectators. Some of those guests have requested a late checkout Saturday afternoon, she said.
She said she suspects some runners will want to freshen up after the race before they start heading home.
The Columbus Area Visitors Center estimates that the marathon will have an economic impact of about $530,000, with the bulk of that going to restaurants. While many hotels have seen some impact from marathon runners, only two are sold out for Friday night, said Jim Dietz, the Visitors Center’s director of sports tourism.
Nearly half of the roughly 4,000 registered participants are from Columbus, and about 40 percent will travel here from out of state, Dietz said.
The overall economic impact is difficult to project, he said, in part because the city has never hosted the event and because the number of travelers who will accompany the runners is unknown.
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