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Locals enjoy downtown as university students are away on spring break

Downtown Columbia
ABC 17 News
Downtown Columbia


The University of Missouri is on spring break this week, and local residents are able to enjoy what downtown Columbia has to offer with fewer students out.

The streets of downtown Columbia are quieter than usual as many university students left campus for spring break. Local bars and restaurants say more residents have been out enjoying local businesses without the worry of crowded streets and bars.

Matthew McGee, the owner of On the Rocks, a local bar downtown, says he's noticed more local residents coming out to have a drink now that many students have left the city. He says he's sure the locals have appreciated having better accessibility to local bars and restaurants downtown.

"I think now that the students have been gone it's been easier for some local crowds and also people from surrounding communities to be able to get access to bars, the previous five or six weeks it's been very difficult to get into places because the capacity restrictions and the masses of people who are wanting to come out again," said Mcgee.

McGee says this past weekend kicking off the university's spring break, was one of the slowest in the past few months.

"Last weekend was a little slower than it has been in the last few weeks," says McGee.

McGee, like other business owners downtown, isn't concerned with the slower traffic this week, as many are happy that business and traffic have been consistently improving since the start of the pandemic.

"We're all happy that things are improving in terms of the overall situation with the pandemic and that things downtown are improving as well," said Mcgee.

Nick Parks, Owner of Parks Amusements and the Silver Ball says it's been serving a different clientele this week, as there has been a more local presence than usual.

“Because the college students are out of town the locals come out and hang out and even downtown the car we had a relatively decent weekend in terms of traffic but it was a different type of clientele,” said Parks.

Parks says business was slower this past weekend compared to the previous weeks, as students are away for the break.

Other local bars have decided to change its' hours of operation due to the lack of student traffic downtown. Monday, Harpo's announced it would close it's doors for the spring break week with plans to reopen Saturday. Shiloh Bar and Grill also decided to close for the week with plans to reopen on Friday. The Billiard's on Broadway closed it's doors early on Saturday and reopened it's doors yesterday.

Richard Walls the owner of the Heidelberg, across the street from the university, says he decided to shut down for the week as well, due to staff shortages and less traffic.

“and also a lot of students leaving town. We’ve had some staffing issues for this week so we decided to close down for a few days this week, but we’ll be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday," said Walls.

Walls says business has been picking up as more people are getting vaccinated and restrictions are bing lifted.

“Some of our guests that we haven’t seen in a while that have received both vaccines coming back out and they're excited to be out so things are definitely improving," said Walls.

The University of Missouri and Columbia Public Schools are both on spring break this week and will return on Monday. CPS will begin its first day of student's full return to classrooms on Monday since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

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Victoria Bragg

Victoria Bragg joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in October 2020.

She is a graduate of Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas and is a Dallas native.


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