Merchants Gear Up for Biker Rally

Cliff Stotchoff, of Massachusetts, helps set up a sign for a San

The weeks leading up to the Hollister Motorcycle Rally are a
frenzy of activity for many local businesses preparing for
thousands of bikers rolling into town.

Hollister – The weeks leading up to the Hollister Motorcycle Rally are a frenzy of activity for many local businesses preparing for thousands of bikers rolling into town.

For some local bars, hotels and other businesses, the rally weekend is the biggest moneymaker of the year. But with the explosion of customers comes a need to prepare months in advance.

Julia Otis, co-owner of the Broken Wing, a relatively new downtown bar, said the owners put a lot of research into calculating every detail so they will be ready for their first biker rally. Otis said she also relied on help from other local businesses’ advice on what to expect.

“I have a storage room that’s filled to capacity,” Otis said. “It’s almost floor-to-ceiling with just hundreds of cases of Corona and cases of limes.”

To order limes for the Coronas, Otis came up with a formula, multiplying an estimate for beers sold by the number of wedges in a lime.

“I’m excited and nervous. It’s probably similar to planning for a wedding,” Otis said.

While the preparation is new for the Broken Wing, other local businesses know more of what to expect.

Ignacio Velazquez, owner of The Vault, said the restaurant is fully prepared.

“We have a checklist. Over the years we’ve gotten (the preparation) down to a science. We just need to make sure the bikers show up,” Velazquez said.

Although Whiskey Creek Saloon owner Carol Rivers is never exactly sure how many people to expect, she knows to stock up on hard alcohol and beer.

“I buy 10 to 15 cases more than I usually do, and probably about 75 percent more beer, but you never know,” Rivers said. “You never know what people are going to drink so you just have to play it by ear. If we run out, they drink something else.”

The Vault has doubled its staff for the weekend, hiring 20 security guards to come in. Velazquez said he plans to get around three months’ worth of business during the weekend.

“It’s incredibly important. I don’t think people realize how important it is,” he said.

Many of the local bars count on this extra influx of income to boost their finances for other parts of the year.

“It gets you through all the slow times throughout the year. You get to turn around and spend the money that you make here,” said Charisse Tyson, owner of Johnny’s Bar and Grill and chairwoman of the rally committee.

Grocery stores are also stocking up on supplies for the rally. Jose Valles, the grocery manager of Save Mart, said the store bought extra supplies of bottled water, and had beer and soda displays up, not only for the rally, but for the Fourth of July holiday as well.

Local hotels and motels are also prepared to fill up during the weekend.

Seema Kaur, general manager of the San Benito Inn, said people called to make reservations a year in advance. The inn is at capacity for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the rest of the week almost sold out.

Kaur said the hotel charges up to $100 more a night during the week of the rally, the busiest time of year.

Still, other local businesses are less than thrilled about the influx of motorcycle enthusiasts over the weekend. Several downtown shops will be closed for the weekend.

With the countdown to the rally in its final days, most business owners can only wait for the arrival of the bikers.

“You can only plan so much,” Otis said. “The rest we’re going to go at with a wing and a prayer.”