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Village prepares to feed hungry Bears, fans during training camp

BOURBONNAIS (AP) – You might not think local businesses would be happy about the prospect of hulking Bears roaming town, but when those bears are the kind that wear helmets and play at Soldier Field, it is a different story.

In Bourbonnais, as the Chicago Bears are getting ready to start training camp, restaurants are particularly excited about seeing all those hungry players and the hungry fans that come down to watch them prepare for the season.

“We get our temporary license from the county health department, and we’ll be grilling brats, burgers and serving Italian beefs,” Tom Richmond of T.J. Donlin’s, told The Daily Journal in Kankakee. “It’s simple food, but it’s really good, and people like it.”

At Beggars Pizza, just across the street from Olivet Nazarene University, where the Bears practice and live during training camp, manager Melissa Rapp is hoping for a repeat of last year when a late team meeting and some hungry Bears added up to an order of about 20 pizzas for a snack.

“And I hear they went fast,” she said.

Still, some businesses don’t expect to see as many players as they once did – in part, because of all the coaches they expect to be serving.

“The problem is that if the coaches are here, the players don’t want to come in here and have the coaches watching them,” said Steve Long, owner of the Warehouse Grill in Bourbonnais.

If the village has anything to say about it, there is one kind of business that might not get a chance to take advantage of the anticipated crowds of Bears fans: unlicensed operations that sell T-shirts and other items with Bears logos on them.

“We keep an eye out for those,” said village administrator Gregg Spathis. “If they pop up, we’ll move in.”

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