Return of college students a boon for downtown businesses

i Aug 27th 2016

By Brigid Edmunds, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

Downtown shops thrilled to see fall semester begin

WILKES-BARRE — Students at both of the city’s downtown colleges return to classes on Monday, prompting businesses in the area to gear up for a busy fall.

“We’ll have extra people on just in case,” said Mark Kovalski, manager at Rodano’s on Public Square. “We’re always prepared.” Kovalski said the restaurant always sees an increase in business when classes start, and he has been prepping his staff for the return of college students. It’s a annual ritual he embraces. “We look forward to having the school year start again,” he said. Kovalski isn’t the only one downtown who is happy to see the fall semester start at Wilkes University and King’s College.

“The weekend nights really pick up,” said Mike Pasquini, owner of the Crimson Lion Lounge and Cafe, a hookah lounge located at 37 E. South St. Pasquini is planning specials and events for the fall to attract students.Even though he normally sees an increase on the weekends, Pasquini said he will be running specials and events throughout the week as well. On Mondays, the lounge offers a gaming night, where people can play both retro video and board games, and trivia on Wednesdays. Pasquini said his club is already offering specialty drinks, such as pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin butter beer. Pasquini said the club is also offering daily group rates and discounts for hookahs. “It’s more value you can get for your money,” he said. Above all, Pasquini said he wants to provide a place for college students to hang out. “It’s a good, relaxing alternative to going out to the bar,” he said.

Similarly, Rodano’s will begin to offer specials this week aimed at the college students, including drink specials on Thursday nights and daily lunch specials. Kovalski said students should keep an eye on the restaurant’s Facebook page to keep up on specials. Even Public Square’s newest business is gearing up for its first back-to-school season. In anticipation of drawing the college crowd, City Market and Cafe, which opened in May, has started offering breakfast as well as discounts for students. Amanda Vieira, a manager at the market, said she believes the market is an attractive option for students due to its proximity to both campuses. “It’s a central location for the colleges,” Vieira said. Vieira said students will receive a 15 percent discount with valid identification on any made-to-order food in the deli. City Market beer manager Christina Provatopoulos said she is “thrilled” about the fall semester as well. Throughout the summer, the market has been hosting beer tastings, and she said there are similar events planned for the fall. On Oct. 7, the market will host its first annual Oktoberfest beer tasting, an event that Provatopoulos says will allow customers to “try and buy” different beers. Vieira said the market will also have specials during the week on groceries, so students have a one-stop shopping option. On Saturdays and Sundays, students can get a 10 percent discount on groceries and Mondays they can get 10 percent off meats and cheeses from the deli.