Local business calls students’ return “the perfect storm”


Broomwagon will remain open until 9 p.m. on weekdays so that students can have a place to come, hang out and study.

Sarah Ladd

As the fall semester begins, and with it the return of thousands of students to the area, local businesses are preparing for a change of pace. Throughout the summer, both staff and revenue decrease when college students return home to spend time with their families. With their arrival back on campus, businesses prepare to thrive once again.

Matthew Durham, manager at the Common Grounds coffee shop on East High Street, spoke about the effect the migration will have on the place. He says that he is very excited to welcome students back, calling their migration “the perfect storm.”

UK alone will welcome back around 30,000 students, including around 5,000 new freshmen to campus. These numbers alone represent a 10th of Lexington’s population as of last year. When students leave, businesses definitely slow down.

“The students are the best thing for our community and our local businesses,” said Durham. “They are what keep our doors revolving. We all know it, and I am grateful for them.”

Many establishments will be making adjustments to their hours and menu items to welcome the students back to town.

Durham says Common Grounds is preparing activities and will be running specials to accommodate them. Open mic will continue on Monday nights and Durham says he can’t wait to see all the new talent that will be represented this semester by the returning students. Friday and Saturday nights will feature local artists. These evenings are for the students to relax after a week of studies and listen to some great tunes.

He will be extending the store’s hours by remaining open until 11 p.m. versus the summer’s 10 p.m. closing time. During finals week, he will keep the doors open for students until midnight. He also says he is planning a special 24-hour day during finals week.

Starting Aug. 21 and extending for the first two weeks of class, Common Grounds will also offer a special $3 latte to students as well as giving them coupons packets.

Finally, Durham says that he will be reserving the private study room in the café for 2-hour sessions to allow students a quiet place to do their homework and fellowship.

“I want the freshmen who walk through these doors to see our art, see our smiling staff, and I want them to want to hang out with us for the next 4 years,” said Durham. “We want to share their college experience.”

The return of students promises a change to the staff as well. Durham expects staff members to double, saying his employee force consists of many college students. “Many of the employees here are students themselves, working several shifts a week. So, our employee numbers will definitely rise as they get back in town.” He says his bar will go from one barista to two or three this fall to accommodate the much heavier flow of costumers.

Right now, he is focused on the shop being fully stocked, cleaned and fully staffed. “We’re all just trying to relish the moment. We love seeing people smile, hang out, and enjoy themselves here. We can’t wait.”

Tiffany Morrow, co-owner of Broomwagon, agrees. She says that this year, their business will be impacted more than ever by the return of students. With the relatively new Bike Voucher Program at UK, she feels more and more students will be in the bicycle side of the shop. This is Broomwagon’s first year participating in this program, and they feel that it will attract more students to their doors. To accommodate this increased business, Morrow says they have stocked up on more single speed, easily maintainable, commuter style bikes geared toward the students in the program.

Morrow says the shop will remain open until 9 p.m. on weekdays so that students can have a place to come, hang out and study. Their 7 p.m. weekend closing time, however, will remain the same.

Broomwagon will continue their Monday night “Old Time” themed open mic from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Morrow says this will attract many more people to the shop.

“It’s going to get crazy,” said Morrow. “But I’m always excited when they get back. The students come back and just revive Lexington. We’re all sad to see them go in the summer because the city slows down so much. They’re coming back, and bringing it back to life.”