Macon, Georgia — On a quiet weekend evening in downtown Macon, Georgia, the Kudzu Seafood crew was running around getting ready for dinner service.
A waitress carefully wraps the silverware. The bartender wipes down her counter. The pots and pans were clanging, the food was sizzling in the pot, and the kitchen was buzzing. It’s the calm before the storm, owner Lee Clark said. At 5 o’clock, everything changes.
“We’ll have parties walk in and they’ll be ready for the lights at 6 o’clock,” Clark said.
The Christmas Lights extravaganza in downtown Macon draws crowds every night. Clack says many people visit restaurants like his before a show.
Sure enough, like clockwork, the crowd poured in. None of this is new to Clack and his team. After all, just a few weeks ago, they ended the week with their best sales ever at their Poplar and 3rd Street locations.
“Our busiest week since the cherry blossoms,” Clark said.
He said the lights get bigger every year, bringing in more hungry diners. Clark credits Macon’s newfound presence in the national media as a big reason for his success.
“Getting a lot of national media coverage, not just because of the Christmas lights, but downtown Macon is one of the coolest downtowns in the South,” he said.
The national attention is there for a reason. Visit Macon’s 2022 goal is to get travel writers in town, said Marisa Rodgers, the agency’s marketing director.
“Trying to promote the history of music, the name that’s going to be a national park, everything that’s going to happen in the next year,” Rogers said.
This year, Conde Nast, Forbes, Southern Living and CBS Mornings all praised Macon. They wrote about the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park, the growing downtown area and the amphitheater the county is building at the Macon Mall.
“Trying to show that there are options that not only allow you to have fun here, but for days on end,” Rogers said.
If you’re in town for a visit, Lee Clark wants you to visit him too and get a feel for the bay in the heart of Georgia. The next big thing they’re trying to draw attention to is the Cherry Blossom Festival, which is scheduled to open on March 17, Rogers said.