With visitors beginning to arrive into Augusta for The Masters Tournament, Columbia County hotels and restaurant employees have been busy.
The Georgia Inn, formerly the Villager Lodge on South Belair Road, has undergone many renovations and updates in anticipation of the golf crowds.
"Right now we are extremely busy," general manager Aqunetta Sullivan said Wednesday. "We just got done renovating. We are pretty much getting up-to-date with things that need to be done around the hotel."
The hotel has had the parking lot resurfaced, mattresses replaced and painting, cleaning, pressure washing and landscaping completed around the property.
But the hotel is not yet completely booked for the week as it was this time last year.
French Market Grille West chef Dale Copeland pulls
roasted ducks from the oven. The restaurant is one of many Columbia County businesses that expects to see a boost in business during Masters Week.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"We are getting a lot of last-minute reservations," Sullivan said. "A lot of our people from last year are just now deciding to make reservations."
Hampton Inn and Suites, also on South Belair Road, is not completely booked either, but for a different reason -- this is the hotel's first Masters, general manager Joe Tate said.
Still, employees are busy making sure shuttles and drivers and afternoon social hour plans are in place, he said.
Though many corporate sponsors have pulled out of the tournament and will not be sending large groups, many restaurant owners and managers do not expect any more people than the usual crowds.
"It should be a pretty good time next week," said Stewart Walker, manager of French Market Grille West on Furys Ferry Road in Martinez. "We stay on the ball, try to overstaff and get enough people in here so we can handle everybody. It is sort of a rough week for everyone, but we get through it and we do our best."
Walker said preparations are based on figures from the past few years, which usually show huge crowds in the restaurant.
Staffing is the main concern of all restaurant managers and owners. Colden Waller, owner of Cadwalladers Cafe on Davis Road in Martinez, hired extra people and brought in extra food and wine for the week. Serving Masters guests for the 15th year, Waller has it down pat.
He said they see many of the same faces each year and have a pretty good idea what they will eat, which makes it easier to do much of the prep work ahead of time.
"It is a lot of fun," Waller said. "It is such a tradition in Augusta for the Masters. We love it. We look forward to seeing the people. It is like a reunion, like a college reunion or family reunion for people. People are just having a good time. Take the politics out of it. People love the tournament. It is such a great thing and a great way to show off Augusta."
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