TOLEDO, Ohio — The first game of the Toledo Mud Hens' baseball season is one of the best days for locally-owned businesses. Although the first pitch isn't until 4 p.m. on Friday, most downtown businesses began planning weeks ago.
"It's going to be extremely busy, but we are prepared for it. We have quality people and you won't have to wait long for your service," James Reynolds, the general manager of Home Slice Pizza, said.
On opening day, there will be around 10,000 fans hoping to see Toledo's own trounce the St. Paul Saints.
Home Slice is just around the corner from Fifth Third Field and is expecting to see at least half of those fans in for a pizza.
So unlike a normal day, opening day for the Mud Hens requires weeks of preparation for the entire downtown community. Reynolds said Home Slice's preparation began last week.
"We power washed the patios and we have a downstairs and downstairs patio we are going to continue to detail clean this week so it can be presentable and nice for everyone coming down on opening day and experience what Toledo has to offer," he said.
Todd Switala, a Home Slice customer, said he started coming for the games, but the restaurants downtown have now become a regular experience.
"It's always ready and always hot. I get in and out in a half hour and I come in the evening as well when there's a sporting event downtown. It's a good place to go," Switala said.
Kato Ramen is a new restaurant on the same street as Home Slice: South St. Clair.
Kengo Kato, the owner of Kato Ramen, said he looks forward to watching great baseball and serving hungry customers.
"We are excited for a great season for the Mud Hens and to see the community come out for locally-owned restaurants and bars," Kato said.
Even though the WTOL 11 Weather Team is forecasting damp and windy conditions with high temperatures in the low 60s, Kato hopes to see fans rain or shine.
"Hopefully the weather will be good for opening day, but even with good weather or bad weather, a hot bowl of nice broth and nice soup will be great I think," Kato said.
Home Slice Pizza and Kato Ramen both open at 11 a.m. on Friday for opening day.
Kato Ramen closes at 2 p.m. and Home Slice closes at 2 a.m.