GEORGETOWN — The first week of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games was slow for Sam's Restaurant, just a few miles from the Kentucky Horse Park.
Restaurant manager Boris Schellig said a few people would come by for breakfast on their way to the Horse Park, while some regular diners stayed away, possibly because they feared a large crowd.
"I guess the first week wasn't that exciting at the Horse Park," Schellig said.
But Schellig, who has worked for Sam's for 15 years, said business improved during the first weekend in October.
"We had one of our best weekends we've had in years," he said.
On a recent morning, five jovial women settled at one table, wearing jackets and vests after escaping chilly morning temperatures. The women — from Texas and Louisiana — arrived at Sam's on Lexington Road in Georgetown in the black sport-utility vehicle that had carried them to Central Kentucky.
At another table, a man from Canada worked on a laptop after getting an early start at breakfast while his wife slept late.
Schellig said there were three people hired for WEG. The restaurant, which started in the 1950s as a truck stop, also opens an hour earlier for the Games, at 6 a.m.
The five women laughed as a server poured coffee and milk.
"What happens at the WEG, stays at the WEG," they said, without elaborating. Another — happy that she could order grits for breakfast — said they never traveled so far north that they could not get grits.
"We like the local places because you get the best food," said Marsha Murray of Benton, La.
Sam's was recommended by a friend of the person who rented the women a house.
Kathy Calhoun of Frierson, La., said Georgetown is a beautiful town and a place she would like to visit again soon and maybe, one day, buy a horse farm.
"I would love to come back and spend some time here," Calhoun said. "I would love to come back and live here."
The women are all amateur dressage riders who wanted to watch the professionals during the Games.
Brian Shell of Toronto said he did not like to dine at fast-food and chain restaurants. A tourism representative recommended Sam's, which is known for its Kentucky cooking, including homemade pies and salad dressings.
"It's really lovely and the food is wonderful," Shell said. "There is, in fact, Kentucky food here."
Shell, who attended the Games as a spectator, said he was having a wonderful vacation, although he wasn't happy about overpriced food at the Horse Park. And Shell said he thought visitors should at least be allowed to take a tuna sandwich with them.
But as for Kentucky, Shell said, he was only disappointed that the grass was not blue.