Business pace stays steady in summer

Suzi Starheim

John Shannon, general manager of Rockne’s in Kent, said the restaurant doesn’t face financial difficulties during summer when many students are out of school. Rachel Kilroy | Summer Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

With the majority of students leaving Kent for the summer months, it is nearly inevitable that businesses notice the loss of life as much as the university.

John Shannon, general manager of Rockne’s, said the restaurant does not use employment cutbacks to make up for the loss of student customers throughout the summer.

“As summer hits, we get slow due to kids graduating or leaving the state and a lot of our employees are students,” Shannon said. “We don’t intentionally cut back, it just happens naturally.”

Shannon said student business at Rockne’s typically picks back up at the beginning of August and increases from then on until the fall semester begins.

“It begins to just trickle in and then increases more and more,” Shannon said. “Students living in apartments and off campus are the business increase we see right away during the beginning of August.”

Shannon said Rockne’s offers no special deals or advertising to make up for the lacks of business during the summer for several specific reasons.

“Summer is the time when we do any of our construction to improve our facility,” Shannon said. “There is always something that needs to be done, even if it’s just small, because by the end of August you don’t want to disrupt your business at all.”

Another reason Shannon said Rockne’s doesn’t have to do alternative advertising to bring in business in the summer is because of the backing of the Kent community.

“You really want to make sure you have close ties with the community because they will get you through the tough times, like the summer,” Shannon said. “We make it so it’s a nice little neighborhood place so community folks can come in with their families.”

Ray’s Place manager Tom Creech said while the decrease of students in the summer is noticeable, there is not a major impact on the restaurant and bar as a direct cause of it.

“We have a lot of community members that come in year-round,” Creech said. “They still come at a steady pace even through the summer.”

Creech said it is because of the eclectic group of customers that frequent Ray’s Place that makes the summer months bearable for the business.

“Some of the percentages of the mix of customers changes during the course of the summer,” Creech said. “We don’t lose any ‘townies’ because they don’t usually leave the area, and we always have a mix of commuters, dorm students and other groups. All types of people come in.”

Shannon said members of the community are also what make summer bearable for Rockne’s.

“You take care of the community, and they take care of you,” he said.

Contact news correspondent Suzi Starheim at [email protected].