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Eatery offers cure for midnight munchies

November 9, 2006

UW-River Falls students and members of the surrounding community now have a place to go to satisfy those late-night cravings for burgers and fries. South Fork Café, 116 S. Main St., has extended its hours, now serving patrons between the hours of 12 a.m. and 4 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

UWRF senior Kelly Hartvig was a key player in getting Owner Dawn Morrow to commit to opening the café up to late-night crowds.

“It was something [Morrow] had been considering and decided for sure when I brought in the campus article on the lack of late night restaurants,” she said.

Hartvig has worked at the café since she was a freshman and serves during the midnight shift.

“I think that the new extended hours are needed and a great benefit to the campus community,” she said. “[I] found the hours a little difficult to adjust to, however, well worth my time.”

Samantha Bruley is a UWRF senior who also serves during the late-night shifts at the café.

“Since we are the only restaurant that is open during those hours, it gets really busy,” she said.

The new hours went into effect Oct. 29, and college students who were herded out of the local bars at closing time took notice of the neon “open” light in the window of the café.

“The majority of business was student aged and very friendly,” Hartvig said of her first night working the shift.

Hartvig said she noticed that business picked up around 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 29, which Bruley also noted as a popular time.

“South Fork fills up in about 10 minutes after bar close,” Bruley said. “Before 2:30 it is pretty dead.”

Although the café may be empty prior to the bar close rush, those who decided to dine at the establishment during the first weekend the hours were enforced were not disappointed.

“After bar close ... people were so thankful to have a place to go,” Hartvig said. Bruley said that she, along with other UWRF students who work at the restaurant, are scheduled for the late-night shifts since high school students are unable to work those hours due to labor laws.

“Working the new shift is completely on a volunteer basis,” Hartvig said.

The first weekend the midnight hours were put into effect coincided with Halloween weekend, which typically draws large crowds to the downtown bars.

“The Halloween crowd was a lot of fun and I am glad that we are able to offer people an alternative to driving out of town,” Hartvig said.

Students who do not frequent the local bars also now have a place to eat something other than the usual college food.

“I think that having something open past 11, besides pizza places, would be sweet because we don’t want pizza all the time and we certainly don’t want to drive to Hudson at 3 a.m.,” sophomore Jason Wallace said.

Junior John Breitzman said having the option to go to South Fork Café will also benefit students during finals weeks. He said it would be better for the town if they had more after-hours options for UWRF students to take advantage of, such as later hours at Perkins.

“Why take the business to another town when you can make some money here?” Breitzman said.

Junior Derick Teich bartends two doors down at Bo’s ‘n Mine and sees the restaurant re-open at midnight to accommodate bar patrons.

“They get lots of business, and bar-goers get some good food late at night,” Teich said. “It’s nice to have more than pizza available.”

UWRF alumna Jessi Baeseman said when she attended college in River Falls, she would have loved to have a place to go after 11 p.m. on weekends.

“I do think that the town should think of other places for later at night,” she said. “It’s hard when all you want to do is grab a midnight bite to eat and get on with the studying and there’s nowhere to go.”