Local businesses look for boost with the return of fans to Autzen Stadium

"Frankly, I feel pretty privileged to be a part of it,” he said.

Posted: Sep 2, 2021 11:45 PM
Updated: Sep 3, 2021 10:52 AM

EUGENE, Ore. --- For the first time since 2019, fans will be allowed inside Autzen Stadium this weekend for the University of Oregon football team's matchup against Fresno State.

The Wild Duck Cafe is hoping to return to their pre-pandemic traffic levels.

Jonathan Overbeck is the general manager of the restaurant. He said they’ve shut down continuously over the course of the pandemic.

The struggle to keep a full staff with few customers often gave them no choice but to close their doors.

"There [were] no students, there are no events, things that would traditionally keep us alive weren't happening,” Overbeck said, “We took that time to work on some things, whether it's administratively or operationally. Whatever it is."

He said this is the first time his doors have been open to welcome fans back in a while.

"Frankly, I feel pretty privileged to be a part of it,” said Overbeck.

Now he's hopeful the pace will start to pick up thanks to football coming back, and of course, the fans.

It's something that hasn't happened in nearly two full years. To him, this means the Wild Duck's role as a staple in the University of Oregon sports community is also back.

"The vibe in the place is just -- it's infectious. I mean it really gives you chills sometimes," he said.

He said he’s hopeful business will soar back to pre-pandemic heights. He mentioned the main goal for Saturday is to keep everyone as safe as possible.

"We don't really wanna look backward. We want to look forward,” Overbeck said.

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