COLUMBIA - With a growing number of new students coming to the University of Missouri this year, many business owners downtown said they have already seen the impact those students bring to their business and they have prepared to better accommodate the new crowds.
This year, the University of Missouri set a new record in enrollment with more than 34,000 students. Compared to this time last year, Mizzou welcomed 900 more students to campus.
Although it is just the second week of the new semester, people could see a lot of students hanging around shops and stores downtown. At Shakespeare's Pizza, people line up at noon, choosing their favorite slice of pizza and enjoying their lunch time with friends and family.
Gerald Paule, a employee at Shakespeare's Pizza never got a lunch break. He was busy handing out slices and talking to his customers. Paule said the growing number of students have made an impact on his store.
"Being a campus store, we have so many students that come in all the time that with the increasing students, we've had actually opened up another store," said Paule.
Paule said in fact, his store is busy all day. Students seem to take over around noon. Families come between 5pm and 7pm. Students are back at Shakespeare's after 10pm for bar time.
Paule also said he noticed Columbia has a lot of international students coming in.
"They just come into the town, and they start going to MU and they hear about Shakespeare just like everyone else," said Paule.
Shakespeare's also hired extra staff to accommodate for football season.
Shakespeare's Pizza is not the only store that feels the impact of new students. Kaldi's Coffee General Manager Johanna Cox said she also sees how new students are creating a buzz everywhere downtown.
"Some of the things we've done to prepare for that is we have created a new breakfast menu, which launched on Monday with the beginning of the new classes at Mizzou," said Cox.
Cox said the store also added outdoor seating and will add more seats inside if necessary for news students and football fans who will visit Columbia soon.
Cox also said sometimes she can recognize the students new to the town since they will ask for suggestions.
This weekend, more people will come to Columbia for the football game, and many shop owners said they are excited to see the downtown area is filled with the football fans and the new students.