Tuesday afternoon I attended the first in a series of meetings put on by the Boise Convention and Visitor's Bureau to prepare Boise for being hospitable as our international guests begin arriving for the Special Olympics next week.
The numbers are huge. This week, Boise starts receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 visitors. According to yesterday's presentation, that makes these games larger than the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002 (I haven't been able to verify that comparison yet through another source).
After the presentation was over, one woman asked the panel what kind of business local restaurants could expect to see. Panelists weren't sure, but here's my estimation of how it breaks down:
• a total of 4,500 athletes, coaches and delegates will be here
• the Special Olympics will provide 150,000 meals for those athletes, coaches and delegates
• at least another 5,000 visitors will need to eat
Multiply that by three meals a day, and we're looking at 15,000 meals a day for 10 days ... that's 150,000 meals.
Although much of the social activity will be happening downtown, events are spread among Idaho Expo, the Idaho Center, McCall, Bogus and Sun Valley. So let's throw out what I'd consider to be a pretty conservative number: 125,000 meals over 10 days.
I would guess between the downtown core and Bogus Basin are about 100 places to find some kind of grub. If that number is anywhere near accurate, each eatery will churn out 1,250 meals in 10 days, or 125 meals a day, which works out to about 42 meals at each of the day's three meal times.
That's a number that doesn't sound too scary, especially for larger places, but there's an inherent flaw in that sort of thinking. My 100 restaurant estimate includes places like Flying M. As much as I love Flying M, I wouldn't recommend it for dinner. I also includes places like Chandlers, which is only open for dinner. Now we're talking about an extra 65 or so meals in two shifts, or—for those places only open one meal a day—the entire 125 in one shot.
Considering how slow the restaurant biz is these days, I'd be surprised if many restaurants are doing 125 plates a day. That means not just augmenting business, but perhaps in some cases doubling or tripling business.
It's an economic boon for sure, but I sure do hope restaurant people are ready to turn and burn.