Aug 24, 2008
What some local residents view as a nuisance is a welcome sight to local business owners. Georgia Southern students have returned in record numbers for Fall semester bringing their pocket books and wallets with them. "If anybody here wants to say anything about a Georgia Southern student, they will have to take it up with me," said Craig Deal, owner of Deal's Furniture, Mattress Outlet, and Gift Shop on Highway 67 South. "I don't want to hear it. They pump so much money into our local economy, it is incredible. I understand that it averages one million dollars a day when school is in session." According to a study released by Georgia Southern’s Bureau of Business Research and Development (BBRED) in 2007, the University pumped $719,233,212 into the economies of nine Southeast Georgia counties in 2006-2007. Whether those numbers are accurate or not is inconsequential to local business owners. They only know that Georgia Southern students are extremely important to the livelihood of their businesses, and many wouldn't survive without them. "On sorority rush bid day, we had the largest single sales day any Barberitos has ever had," said Jeremy Coulter, owner of Barberitos restaurant in the Market District. "We catered the event attended by over 750 people. It was a phenomenal day for us, and all because of Georgia Southern." Coulter said he has a number of professionals that eat at his restaurant during the day, but students and their eating schedules are just different. "They eat all of the time," he said. "At three in the afternoon, late at night, it doesn't matter, they are always eating, and that is very good for us. We really, really miss them when school is not in session. I honestly didn't know the economic impact the students make until my wife and I opened up this restaurant. They are a breath of fresh air." Deal said he sells hundreds of mattresses to students each year representing well over 25 percent of his mattress business in a relatively short period of time. "The push begins in late June running right up until the start of school," he said. "We are really, really busy, and it is almost exclusively students. We have parents that come in to buy furniture and such for their children, and then turn around and buy stuff for themselves and haul it back to Atlanta or wherever. It just multiplies." Robbie Richardson, owner of Hugo's Restaurant in downtown Statesboro, said he saw a noticeable difference when the public school system started its new academic year at the beginning of August. "I guess it isn't just college students that leave," Richardson said. "It is professors and folks that service the University. When their children start back to school, they come back and bring the business with them. However, that isn't nearly as impactful as when Georgia Southern students come back. I mean look around, look at all of the students that are eating in here." Richardson said local restaurants plan for a drop in business over the summer, but were blindsided this year by the increased cost of food. "It's one thing to anticipate a slowdown, but the rise in the cost of food we couldn't and didn't plan for," he said. "It has been a very hard summer for everyone. The last two weeks have truly been a blessing. Thank you Georgia Southern and welcome back." Serenity Day Spa and Salon owner Karen Lambert said the absence of university students impacts the salon's younger stylists the most. "Those stylists depend on the student population because that is the demographic of their customer, so it is slow for them in the summer," she said. "It is a rough few weeks, but they manage. I know how glad they are when everyone comes back for school." Deal said he doesn't understand some people's perceptions of the students admitting a few "bad apples" seem to grab all of the attention. "Almost all of the kids that come in here are very, very nice and polite," he said. "I know there are a few bad ones out there, but most of them are just great. We are truly blessed to have an economic engine like Georgia Southern University. I believe that with all of my heart."
Oct 23, 2008
All too often, we don’t go somewhere new or different because we don’t know what to expect. That is where this feature, “Let’s Do Lunch,” comes in. Each week, we highlight a different spot that you can try for lunch. We tell you about prices, atmosphere and anything else you need to know before showing up and chowing down. And if you have a place we should go, don’t hesitate to drop a line. It’s always lunchtime around here. Barberitos 112 Common Parkway, Anderson; 864.225.4646 One of the most popular cuisine in the world has to be of the Mexican variety. The simplicity of the dishes and the complexities of flavor makes Mexican food an adventure with every bite. It can be hot, savory, mild and even relaxing. It can be made using a wide array of food stuffs and attracts all palettes to its fold. Even quick Mexican fare is insanely popular at present, especially when you are talking about a lunch during the work week. On Commons Parkway in Anderson, just in front of Lowe’s and Target, is Barberitos, a relatively new addition to the Mexican family in the Electric City. Barberitos is known for its tacos, quesadillas, nachos, fajitas and, most of all, their burritos. One of the easiest foods to make, but most difficult to master, the burrito is an ultimate quick lunch food and Barberitos does it right. They offer a huge variety of flavor options from chicken, steak and ground beef to black or pinto beans to the many additions like fresh salsa, jalapenos or black olives. They also allow you to choose your wrap from plain to sun-dried tomato to the new addition of wheat. You make your order quick and get it fast after telling them just what you want it dressed with. Then, with a scoop of chips and some complimentary salsa, you are off to one of their many booths. With TVs set to news and ESPN, traditionally, its easy to catch up on some boob tube info or just chat with a handful of friends you invited along. The atmosphere is relaxed and you can get it all for right around $9 to $10. It’s quick Mexican, in house or on the go, and ideal for a fast lunch among friends or co-workers.
Jun 9, 2009
Professor Downing Barber tests out the formula for his new Spicy Chicken Burrito. The test subject proves Professor Barber's hypothesis... IT'S THE FIRE!!!
Mar 4, 2005
Through various means of advertising, we hear valiant, ambitious claims just about every day: “state-of-the-art facilities,” “biggest sale ever,” “quality customer service,” and so on. Is it possible that with so many businesses making such bold declarations, these marketing messages have, over time, lost some of their “umph?” I don’t plan to review many chain restaurants in this column, but once in a while there will be an exception, especially when it involves an establishment that is not as rooted in nearby cities. As a matter of fact, a spokeswoman confirmed the Barberitos in Johnson City is the first one to open in Tennessee In my initial checking, I found that Barberitos also makes a strong pledge to its customers. One word says it all: Fresh. That may sound simple, but think how often this basic food concept gets neglected in this low-carb, low-fat era, so much that restaurants are now developing branding messages about serving fresh food. Barberitos makes the promise and holds true to its word. Its signature item is the burritos, but it also has salads, quesadillas, nachos and a menu for kids (Lil’ Barbs Menu, to be precise). You will have a lot of options to choose from when ordering your burrito, and I felt a little overwhelmed because there were people in line behind me. But don’t worry; the young staff is very helpful in walking you through the process. As far as what kind of burrito they serve, that all depends on you. Barberitos puts you in the driver’s seat. The entire ordering process is done much like your basic sub shop where you create your burrito, layer by layer, and watch as it’s being made. First, you get to pick what type of tortilla wrap you want. The spinach and chipotle wraps seemed to be the popular picks during my visit. You also have the option of what type of beans and meat, such as chicken or steak, to include. Tofu is also an option. Speaking of which, I predict Barberitos will be very popular among vegetarians. It has at least three burritos — the vegetarian, super vegetarian, and vegan — to choose from, and the guacamole is one-of-a-kind. But it is the salsa that gets the “MVP” award for adding a delectable flavor. Made with the freshest tomatoes (you can tell), the salsa has just the right level of ingredients to create a complementary taste that is not too spicy. Of course, nacho chips, the “gee-I-could-make-a-meal-on-those-alone” kind, come on the side. Don’t let your fire alarms go off when you see the green (verde) sauce. It’s not nearly as hot as I’ve braved before. Barberitos bills itself as a Southwestern grille and cantina rather than a standard Mexican eatery. I tend to agree. The atmosphere is much more hip and contemporary and certainly will be a draw to younger people. Don’t be misled into thinking you should order more than one burrito if you are accustomed to getting two or three at other restaurants. Wait till you see the burrito when it is done. It is definitely enough for one meal, even if you order the Skinny size. Ambitiously, I jumped in feet first and ordered the Heavy D. Fortunately, the leftovers make a great midnight snack.
Sep 29, 2006
Barberitos, the downtown restaurant known for their burritos and convenient service, stayed open past 2 a.m. for the last few Thursday nights in order to feed the patrons who were still hungry after the bars closed down. Though originally wanting to keep its doors open until 2 a.m. on Friday, the influx of customers was so immense that the restaurant stayed open until 2:30 a.m., closing its doors with people still in line inside. “The place was packed out,” said Taylor Cox, who was dining at Barberitos during the rush. “I ordered chips and dip so it didn’t take that long, but everything went pretty fast, even with all the people.” Benjamin Smith, a burrito maker at Barberitos, was dubious of the idea at first. “At first, I didn’t think it was going to be a good idea because I wasn’t so sure that many people were going to show up, or that it would be worth the labor costs,” Smith said. “But after the success Thursday night, I do believe it was a good idea.” In Athens, restaurants like the Pita Pit, Jimmy John’s and The Grill stay open late hours to reap the rewards of the bar-going crowds. Until now, Thursday nights in Milledgeville meant walking to the Golden Pantry or Huddle House or calling a designated driver. “We found out that students only had a couple options for eating downtown late at night,” said Al Autry, regional director for the Barberitos restaurant chain. “We wanted to give them the option of a place within walking distance to keep people (who have been drinking) from behind the wheel.” For now, Barberitos is planning to continue operating until 2:30 a.m. on Friday mornings. “Right now we’re taking baby steps, just to see the nights where the students would benefit the most,” Autry said. The restaurant is planning to expand the extended hours to other days of the week, and used the Thursday nights in September as a testing sample. One of the main problems with operating at such a late hour is the fact that all of the employees at Barberitos are students. “We’re going to be able to have enough people to work,” said Charis Williams general manager of the Milledgeville location. “I recently hired one person who said they would work late every Thursday night, but with the success of last Thursday, some of our employees have decided to step up and work the late hours.” Williams, a student herself, worked until 4 a.m. the night the restaurant stayed open, and then proceeded to go to work at 8 a.m. the same morning to start the day shift. Autry believes that keeping the restaurant open will be a boon to the late-night population. “We are really doing this for the students,” Autry said. “Most of our business comes from repeat visitors, and the only comments we had on Thursday were positive, so we plan to continue this as long as the students keep coming.”