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Restaurants near WMU, Univ. of Michigan brace for possibility of no football season

Restaurants owners say they’ll miss fans the most if college football season is cancelled
Posted at 9:07 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 21:07:37-04

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ron Sartori said he wasn’t shocked when he heard that the Big Ten Conference might cancel or postpone its 2020 football season.

He’d been following the news about the coronavirus since he had to close his own place Fraser’s Pub when the pandemic and subsequent shutdown began in March.

So, when news emerged about the Big Ten possible decision, and its impact on Michigan football, he expected it.

“If they would’ve played it would’ve been an added bonus,” Sartori said during an interview with FOX 17 on Monday. “So we’ll continue to struggle like everybody else until this is over.”

Sartori said it’s been difficult to rebound from the shutdown. Offering carryout service has helped them survive. However, they’ve been down 40 percent since reopening back in June.

Now that football season may be canceled, he could lose 100-150 percent in business and revenue on game days, he said.

Fraser's is a mile away from the Big House where the Wolverines play and fans typically fill the pub for hours on those days, he said.

And, it’s the fans he’ll miss the most. He said the atmosphere on game days is 'amazing.'

“We have people that come every year that you see once a year, two times a year. We got people from other schools,” Sartori said. “We had a couple here from Ohio State last year. This was their 14th time. So they been coming here 28 years ‘cause they play every other year. So those are the kind of things you're going to miss and I’m sure they’ll miss it to.”

Craig Dotson in Kalamazoo said he’ll miss the fans too.

He owns Studio Grill, a popular hangout for Western Michigan University football fans. Losing their patronage means loosing $500-$600 extra on game days, he said.

“Lots of positive energy,” is how Dotson described the WMU Bronco fans at his restaurant. “People are excited to go to the games. Sunday morning after everybody’s been partying all night, we’re busy again.”

Dotson said he plans to ‘go with the flow’ for now and hopefully remain busy during this next challenge, if it happens.

Sartori too. He’s had Fraser’s for decades and hopes to survive whatever lies ahead.

“If this went down after 57 years of business, we’re really in a lot of trouble because a lot of places are going to be disappear and we can’t have that.” Sartori said. “We’ll fight as long as we can.”