AUSTIN (KXAN) — Restaurants in Austin are gearing up for a busy couple of weekends with Austin City Limits music festival approaching.
It comes at a time when restaurant owners said they’ve been struggling over the summer with fewer customers dining in.
Previously, the Texas Restaurant Association told KXAN the months-long stretch of triple-digit temperatures led to reduced foot traffic of customers in restaurants, food trucks and trailers.
At the same time, the association said restaurants are also dealing with inflation and rising food costs.
Because of that, the crowds expected these next two weekends will be a welcomed sight.
‘The most important weekend of the year’
Austin-based restaurant Kerbey Lane is gearing up for a busy weekend.
In the next few days, CEO Mason Ayer expects his restaurants to be full of people.
He said September was a bit slow but that’s about to turn around thanks to ACL.
“It’s one of the most important, if not the most important weekend of the year. We will be jam packed,” Ayer said.
The crowds will be a welcome sight for many restaurants, especially after this summer when the TRA said business was down and operation costs were up.
“Inflation, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions,” TRA Public Affairs Officer Kelsey Streufert said. “We really had unprecedented heat waves, even for Texas. I think that did impact our sales and our revenue numbers.”
But Streufert said ACL marks the beginning of a time when business picks up.
“When people travel to Austin, they tend to eat out in restaurants even more than sort of the residents who live here day to day,” she said.
So the countdown begins for Ayer and his team as they prepare for the thousands of people coming to Austin.
“Filled to the brim with guests from out of town, some locals,” Ayer said. “It’s really an exciting time of year for us.”
Money in the local economy
According to Airbnb, searches for listings in Austin increased by more than 30% for this year’s ACL dates.
Airbnb Communications Manager Haven Thorn said with more visitors, comes more money for the local economy.
“The typical guest over last year in Austin spent an average of over $250 a day in the city in the neighborhood that they were staying,” Thorn said.
Streufert said ACL brought in nearly $448 million to the Austin economy last year.
She said the top sector benefiting from that was food and beverage. It racked up $108 million and created over 1,200 jobs in that industry.
Streufert anticipated that number will be even higher this year.