BEING run off their feet was definitely worth it for restaurants in the central business district, who enjoyed a great week of trading from the city’s huge population increase over the Bathurst 1000 race festival.
Some business owners went as far as to say it was the best crowds and takings they had seen over the period for a long time.
Matt Harrowsmith, licencee of The George Hotel, said it was a good week for both the venue’s accommodation and the drinking and dining area.
“This was our third year as The George Hotel, so it was huge for us, our biggest one yet,” he said.
“We were fully booked out upstairs for our accommodation, and from quite early out [from the event].”
The only day with extended trading hours was Sunday, when the hotel remained open for an extra hour.
Mr Harrowsmith couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason this year was bigger, but he definitely felt like there were more people around than normal.
“I think there was two factors, one being the extra people that were in town, but I think we just gained a bit of momentum because it was our third year,” he said.
At Country Coffee on George Street, the staff were kept busy with a great flow of customers, many of which were tourists.
“We really loved it. It was really good for our business,” manager Ella Pappalardo said.
The cafe generally kept to its usual hours, but did open earlier on Sunday to accommodate race fans before the Great Race started on Mount Panorama at 11.10am.
“We probably could have opened early on Saturday, but we didn’t,” Ms Pappalardo said.
Bathurst RSL Club also had a good week of trade with the extra people in town.
“It was excellent, we were really pleased,” general manager Peter Sargent said.
“We had an excellent week; the trade was improved from last year, but I haven’t done the final numbers yet.”
The bistro was particularly busy for the club, and staff were able to offer some bistro promotions.
“We always find that particular week is good for our food trade,” Mr Sargent said.
Over the four days of the event, there were 206,755 race fans through the Mount Panorama precinct.
While the number did surpass last year’s total, which stood as the second highest on record, it fell just short of the record 207,205 that was set in 2012 for the 50th anniversary of the Great Race.
Mr Sargent said it felt quite busy in town, although there were more camping options on the mountain this year.
“There was a greater concentration on top of the mount, but whether there was any extra people in town is hard to tell, but it certainly felt busier,” he said.
Mr Sargent said that, with Craig Lowndes’ win on Sunday, the race festival was already “in good stead” for next year.
Bathurst Business Chamber president Angus Edwards said the success of businesses over race weekend depended on their type.
“Some businesses did really well and were frantic for really the whole week, and some businesses were just doing their normal trade,” he said.
The chamber plans to speak to its members to see how things can be made better in future, particularly when it comes to keeping race fans in town instead of at the Mount.