Lake businesses gear up for summer crowds
LAKE OZARK - For those heading to the lake Memorial Day weekend, Saturday morning is the first day of a summer they hope is filled with relaxation and fun by the water.
Vacationer Johnny Jones and his wife have celebrated their anniversary at the lake for the past three years. Jones said the beginning of the season is his favorite time to be at the lake.
This year, he is there with his entire family.
"My boys are 15. When they were younger, they would do their little thing, so we're going to get them on the water, get some jet skis going on and have a bunch of fun," he said.
Andy Moats and his parents own a house on the lake. He said Memorial Day weekend is a truly special time at the lake.
"Memorial Day weekend is hands down when people get down here. It's the first time people are out for the summer season. It's really a way of kicking off summer," he said.
For local businesses, however, this weekend holds a much different meaning: the start of a frantic 100 day race to maximize profits before summer's end.
Eddie Dredge is a manager at the restaurant/bar Beaver At The Dam. He said for lake businesses, preparing for the next season is a never-ending process.
"The preparation is non-stop. Continuing to contact old employees, keep good contact with all your vendors and upgrading your company and your stuff from last year," he said.
Dredge said people don't realize how much time goes into preparing businesses for the crowds that flock to the lake. He said, for Beaver At The Dam, work begins at least two months before the first customer walks through the door.
"The prep work really starts for us really heavy around February or March, probably a little bit sooner than that," he said.
Jones said he sometimes envies those who work at the lake.
"It's on when it's hot and it's off when it's cold. So I think if it's like that, just naturally, everyone comes when you make your most money and you make all you can make during that time. I think it's pretty relative. I'd love to be down here when it's busy like that."
But Dredge said people who think the 100 days of summer ends with a long vacation have the wrong idea.
"It's only 100 days but the 100 days doesn't end there, it continues on. If you look a lot at the restaurants, they continue on to do maintenance. You're preparing for next year, menu plans, next years events, bands, DJ's and what have you. So it's a continuing on process to keep it going," he said.
Dredge said, despite the hectic work cycle and never-ending challenges that come with weather and staffing, by the end of the season, it's all worth it.