Here’s the scoop on late-night Tuscaloosa food
Emily Howell, Chelsea Amend, Andrew Marronaro, Keldrin Palmer
Conventional mealtimes are rarely suitable for the busy college student, and that’s why many restaurants on college campuses keep their kitchens open late into the night. We got the scoop on the most popular late-night grub spots in Tuscaloosa to make sure that no nocturnal student ever goes hungry.
University Boulevard is full of good food and the most frequented bars in town. From the Strip to Downtown, many restaurants are capitalizing on the late-night crowds the local bars bring. Places like Surin and Glory Bound on the Strip have extended weekend hours starting on Thursday nights, serving food until at least midnight. Others, including Little Italy and Philly Boyz, take full advantage of the end-of-the-night cravings and stay open until 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. all weekend.
“If I’m drunk I just want Little Italy,” said student Sarah Spillane. “But it works for students because they’re up late and still need to eat.”
Many students enjoy the late hours for options when they’re studying or doing homework. George Matta, manager of Little Italy, says that finals week for University of Alabama is one of their busiest times.
“We have such busy schedules with school and extracurricular activities, sometimes we just have to eat super late,” said student Sarah Conlee.
However, some feel like there still isn’t enough variety. Students said they feel that more chain restaurants and places on the Strip should be open while the bars are open.
“Most things in this town aren’t open past 10,” Spillane said.
Fast-food restaurants like Taco Bell, McDonald’s and Cookout are good alternatives, but harder to get to from the bars since they are on 15th Street. Some students feel like access to good grub after the bars is limited.
Some of the restaurant’s managers can speak to this from a business standpoint. Lauren Smith, assistant manager at Buffalo Phil’s, said staying open later means having hit-or-miss sales and potentially rowdy crowds.
“I think for most places, it’s not really worth the potential costs,” said Smith.
Smith said another obstacle with staying open as late as the bars is staffing, which is a big reason Buffalo Phil’s only stays open until 11 p.m.
“It’s going to be hard to find people willing to work a [night] shift,” Smith said.
Paul Lane, general manager of Glory Bound, said serving food until midnight on the weekends has worked for them since they moved from Downtown to the Strip and extended their hours.
“There’s still so many people out, it’s a lot easier to make sales at those hours,” Lane said. “After 9 o’clock it’s pretty much all students.”
Lane said that although Glory Bound’s late night hours are suitable for their business, he would be hesitant to stay open later than that.
“For now, midnight is a good cut-off point for us,” Lane said.
Bars downtown like Moe’s BBQ, Innisfree Irish Pub, and Wilhagans serve a full menu every day, but they close down the kitchens and become full-service bars every night.
Many students said they would like to see more food trucks serving on the Strip to feed the bar crowds. They also said they would still order food from the downtown pubs if they served food all night.