By Rachel Lake, WSBT-TV Reporter
11:18 PM EST, December 25, 2012
If you wanted to go out to eat on Christmas, your restaurant choices were limited. Just about every place was closed.
One place we found open: the Grand Empire International Buffet in Mishawaka.
"Most restaurants, they close,” said manager James Zhang. “So when they come here, they appreciate it, they thank you for being open. You know I appreciate it, they make me feel so good.”
Zhang says business is up 25 to 50 percent during the holidays.
"We're glad they celebrate their traditions on different days than what we do, so they can be open for us," said customer Ashley Hamsher.
The Hamsher Family has made coming to the Grand Empire on Christmas Day a family tradition.
"We spend a few hours here, eating and just talking and enjoying our family,” Hamsher explained. “And then we fight over which movie we'll see.”
Cinemark Movies 14 was packed on Christmas – the parking lot nearly full with people taking in the latest films.
"We're trying to give the movie theatres a run for their money," said Regal Lanes employee Junior Downer. The new owners of Regal Lanes decided to open their doors on Christmas Day. Business was steady with several families working off the calories from those big holiday dinners.
"We're local, kids can get out and do more than just tear up your own house and stuff,” Downer said. “Come here have some pizza, some good food, have a good time laugh.”
Good times for those who have the day off and for those who don't. At least it's extra money lining their pockets.
Some people didn't have a choice but to work. Public service personnel like firefighters and police couldn't take the day off because, of course, emergencies happen anytime, anywhere. A Mishawaka firefighter spent part of Christmas actually putting together a table for a train set as a gift, just waiting to be called to duty.
"Working on the holidays – it’s tough for our kids that don't understand the whole thing,” said Lt. Brent Lake. “But also we understand why we have to be here, because our job is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”
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