I wrote about this in another forum thread, but thought that we Ragbrai riders could help the local businesses and organizations with suggestions on how to maximize their income off of the Ragbrai throngs.
==For example: I always stop at the first Bloody Mary stand or bar I see. Once I had not even ridden a mile and Hey! Bloody Marys and Mimosas! Ride Off! I prefer stopping in at the local town bar for a cold one, as I like to slide up to the bar and have a chat with the locals and of course the bartender. I found so many of these bars without proper signage to lure riders in. Signs should be in bold lettering and up high in order to see above the hundreds of walkers on main street. Advertise your “specialty”: Bloody Marys, mimosas, vodka lemonades, etc., and the price as well.
==All signage should be up above the six foot human wall of cyclists walking through town.
==I prefer live music of any sort when coming into a pass through town…DJs blasting Journey and Lynard Skynard gets old by the fourth town. It can be the high school marching band, polka group, a lone guitarist, fiddle, garage band, barbershop quartet! The towns should have all their locals come out and play and sing! Show off!
==Last year one of the pass through towns had hay bales scattered through the park, which was great as either a seat or to lean against while eating pie! Hard to find places to lean against in the town square as all the trees are used to hold up somebody’s bike.
==Signage for the free water rig would sometimes be helpful if it is off the main drag a bit.
==I love the “welcoming committees” as you ride into town: the cheerleaders, the little kids on the curb hi-fiving you, high school band group. This is one of the “bits” of Ragbrai magic that I tell others down here in FL about when they crunch up their forehead in that confused dog face and ask: “Why do you ride across Iowa?”
==Simplify menu and prep staff. We stopped into a lovely Mexican restaurant last year at an overnight town and they were SLAMMED! Our lovely waitress didn’t know anything about the fact Ragbrai was coming into town. She was all over the floor as they were understaffed. They were running out of everything. Restaurants need to have a special small menu on Ragbrai night so they can get the food out quickly and maximize profits by turning tables. This restaurant had a massive menu that no doubt destroyed the kitchen staff that night. They should have had pitchers of margaritas ready, and maybe a beer special – buckets so a waitperson can serve a handful of drinkers/diners with one bucket instead of five glasses, etc. I saw so many potential diners walk in, and walk out when witnessing the madness. Was sad to see that restaurant not able to do their best and miss out on greater profits. What should have been a historic night of business for them is likely recalled as that “Horror Night of 2016!”
All I have for now. I hope other Ragbrai brethren can add their ideas and suggestions for all of our near future host towns and businesses.