Dillo Day festivities increase sales for certain liquor stores

Every day at work this week, Hiren Patel has seen Dillo Day preparations first hand.

Patel, manager at Evanston 1st Liquors, 1019 Davis St., said each day this week, five or six groups of students have come in to buy kegs — with each group taking home three or four kegs.

Patel said this weekend will be his first Dillo Day weekend in Evanston, so he doesn’t know what sort of business to expect.

But he said he is excited to see how much business the store receives later in the week as students start purchasing more hard liquor.

For Evanston 1st and other area liquor stores, preparations for Dillo Day translate into big sales. But Evanston stores that don’t sell packaged alcohol do not have such a sharp increase.

D&D Finer Foods, 825 Noyes St., only started seeing a large increase in Dillo Day sales when the store began selling wine and beer two years ago, said co-owner Tom Douvikas. Now the store sees a 35 percent increase in sales on Dillo Day weekend compared to the average weekend.

“It’s great for business people,” Douvikas said. “I wish every weekend were like that weekend.”

But it’s not just alcohol that sells. Douvikas’ store has a sale on charcoal and meat to draw students who are planning Dillo Day cookouts.

While liquor sales pick up, business at late-night hangouts like Kafein, 1621 Chicago Ave., probably will decrease on Dillo Day, said owner Irene Sics. Sics said it often is hard for Kafein to compete with an event at Northwestern, and many employees have requested the night off.

“That’s the college experience,” Sics said. “(Students) can go to Kafein any night. But Dillo Day is one day, so that’s what they’re going to do.”

Another popular hangout, Burger King, 1740 Orrington Ave., doesn’t receive much extra business on Dillo Day, manager Jay Darshane said.

Although students who bring in friends visiting for Dillo Day might cause a slight jump in sales, weekends after big football games are much busier at Burger King, Darshane said. And he said for Burger King, the Memorial Day holiday drives down student business.

“You get some, you lose some,” he said. “It’s a long weekend so a lot of students who live in the area go home.”

Students still go to bars on Dillo Day, but the crowd depends on the weather, said Rob Strom, co-owner of Prairie Moon, 1502 Sherman Ave.

Nicer weather keeps more students on campus for the Mayfest concerts, so few go to local bars, Strom said. He said a lot of students also have their own parties instead of going out.

“It’s usually a good bar night on that Thursday, ” Strom said. “And the rest is kind of sporadic.”

But increased business on Dillo Day also means an increased need for precaution. D&D has more cashiers and people checking IDs, Douvikas said. And at Prairie Moon employees carefully will observe students who have “already had a lot of different toxins,” Strom said.

“The employees watch out for that,” Strom said. “Our staff is well aware of what goes on there that weekend.”