For the sixth year, John Stopoulos and his wife, Mary Beth, have pulled out all the stops for the weekend of the John Deere Classic.
The Stopouloses have made a lot of friends and have attracted scores of new customers since opening their restaurant and bar, The Doc’s Inn, 985 Avenue of the Cities in Silvis, 5½ years ago. They also have owned Dr. Gyro’s in Rock Island for 15 years.
Each year during the John Deere Classic, held at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, the Stopouloses have put on the Banana Ball, featuring numerous bands that always draws a large crowd. This year the ball is being held at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds on Archer Drive in East Moline, a stone’s throw from their restaurant.
John Stopoulos said the John Deere Classic, happening just down the road, adds to business at the restaurant and the ball.
“The tournament is very good for business,” he said. “We get a good number of people from the tournament at the restaurant and also at the ball.”
Mary Beth Stopoulos points out that being close to the fairgrounds is a benefit.
“We’d love to have it here every year,” she said. “It’s a bigger venue with plenty of parking, and we’re able to keep the music going until midnight.”
The effect the John Deere Classic has on businesses in Silvis and surrounding communities is apparent, but several business owners observed that location remains the key.
Nestled near the Super 8 and Comfort Inn hotels is the Deerfield Family Restaurant, 2215 John Deere Road. Sam Baciri runs the restaurant with his brother, Tony, and his sister, Jehona Sakiri.
While the extra business generated by the John Deere Classic is always nice, Baciri said it is the relationships and friendships that mean the most to him.
“Of course it’s good for business, but not just here,” Baciri said. “The whole town is looking forward to it and the people are talking about it and everybody gets excited every year.
“But for me, what I look forward to is seeing the friends I have made over the years come in,” he said. “My father started the restaurant in 1999, so we’ve been here for all of the tournaments played in Silvis. There are people who come in five, six, seven weeks ahead of time to help get the tournament set up.
“They’ve been the same people each year, and I’ve made many, many friends, and this includes caddies, people from special event companies, and news reporters,” Baciri said. “We stay in contact over the course of the year and they are true friendships.”
Looking around the restaurant, Baciri knows most of the people who dine at Deerfield by their first names. Someone from the family is making everyone who walks in feel welcome, regardless of how busy it is.
Another nearby business is Chief's Bar and Grill, which Todd Kahley and his family opened nine months ago at 1600 Crosstown Ave.
“We’ve had nine months of experience,” Kahley said. “It’s a family business. The entire family works here.”
Kahley said they strive for good food and friendly service, which has meant getting and keeping regular customers.
“We offer a family-friendly place that’s safe and comfortable for the neighborhood folks wanting a cold drink and good food,” he said.
Kahley knows the regulars, and approaches them at the table and the bar to shake hands and say hello.
Mixed among those regulars this week were people from the tournament coming in for food and a drink.
“We’re starting to see what the JDC brings to the Quad-Cities,” Kahley said. “As a young business it’s nice to see new faces enjoying the food and atmosphere we offer. The JDC certainly is good for local businesses.”
At Porkies Restaurant, located at 130 1st Ave. in downtown Silvis, co-owner Roger Pulford said the business is continuing to recover after a fire Feb. 13. The business reopened in May.
Looking at the receipts during the John Deere Classic a year ago and comparing them with the receipts of the past week, Pulford said, “We’re up pretty good.”
But Pulford is also a realist. “I’m sure it has something to do with the parking for the John Deere Classic that’s across the street at the John Deere building,” he said. “In the morning we see the volunteers wearing their green shirts.”
But for the rest of the day it’s business as usual with people from the tournament not making it that far into the downtown, he said.
It’s all about location, Pulford said.
A little ways to the east is Lolita’s Taco House, located at 402 1st Ave., Silvis. Dolores and Abraham Abarca have run it in that location for 22 years. Before that, the restaurant was run by her father.
For the week of the tournament, the restaurant was packed during the lunch hour and business remained brisk for dinner. Added to that was the business at the carryout window.
The vast majority of that business came from the regulars who love the Abarca’s authentic Mexican cuisine.
“The impact from the tournament doesn’t trickle down this way,” Dolores Abarca said. “We have our city business and we have our regular customers and I’m OK with that. I love my regulars.”
Most of the businesses in the downtown area don’t feel the impact of the tournament as some of the businesses closer to it might.
“The tournament has its own vendors and they serve their own food,” she said.
As Dolores Abarca talked, her husband, Abraham, greeted customers, his smile ever-present and his demeanor making all feel welcome.
“If we were a bigger place that would be fine, but at dinner time we’re full,” Dolores Abarca said. “I appreciate what I get from all of our regulars.”