With four outlets on Toll Road plazas, South Bend Chocolate Co. is gearing up for the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Sheila Blake, manager of the two shops in Rolling Prairie, said she is bringing in additional help and expects about a 50 percent increase in traffic this weekend. She estimates that sales should go up by 30 percent this weekend.
The company also has two shops -- eastbound and westbound -- at the Fremont plaza, near the Ohio-Indiana border."We will be pretty busy Friday and Saturday and then slow down somewhat, and then pick up again with everyone returning home on Monday and Tuesday," Blake said.
Blake said the bump up in business is comparable to the morning of a Notre Dame home football game.
People buy everything from coffee to assorted packages of chocolates to popcorn, she said.
"We definitely look forward to the increase in business," Blake said.
Also anticipating an increase is the Indiana Toll Road.
"This is one of our busiest holidays," Amber Kettring, spokeswoman, said, comparing it to Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. "We actually remove all of our lane restrictions."
All lanes for payment will be open starting Thursday at 5 a.m. through Tuesday at 8 p.m.
There's no time to travel that is better than others, Kettring said.
Kettring said traffic has been "where it should be for the summer compared to the last couple of years," and has not decreased compared to past summers.
"Every summer is generally an increase in traffic," she said, citing vacations and school being out. Since the start of the recession in 2008, "we are making a slow recovery, just like the rest of the country."
South Shore busy, too
The South Shore Line normally doubles its usage over the three days of the Labor Day weekend, said John Parsons, director of marketing and planning for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.
Parsons says some of that increase is from students heading to Chicago for the long weekend, who leave on Friday and come back on Monday.
"We typically carry 600 people into and out of South Bend on Saturday, Sunday and Monday," he said. "That will typically go up to 1,100 to 1,200 each day, so it's a busy time for us out of South Bend."
Staff writer Jim Meenan: