Whitewater opening was good for business downtown

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comMay 28, 2013 

The opening weekend for whitewater rafting in Columbus was a profitable one for downtown businesses.

"Friday and Saturday were just fantastic," said Brother Rosenberg, owner of Brother's General Store on Broadway which did not open Sunday.

At one point Saturday, there was a long line of people waiting for food at his business, Rosenberg said.

"There was a 45-minute wait. We don't normally do that kind of lunch business," he said. "People were having fun and did not seem to mind waiting."

Most just checked out the large assortment of candy available.

Across the street at Your Pie, a pizza restaurant, records were falling.

"Friday was the best day we have ever had," said Leroy Coronado, the store's manager. "That was until Saturday when we did even better. Sunday was not far behind Friday."

For the weekend Coronado estimated that about 2,500 customers were served at the restaurant that opened in March.

"What really makes it amazing is that probably half of the college students who live downtown are on break and not even here," Coronado said.

At Philly-osophy, a sandwich shop on Broadway, owner Skylar Toole also saw a record day.

"We did $2,000 of business between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday," he said. "That is a ton of sandwiches."

The average price for a sandwich, he said, is around $8.

Business did not fade away on Monday.

"We opened Memorial Day and did $1,000 (worth of business). There was no Synovus or TSYS and we still had a big day," he said.

It was not just eating establishments that prospered.

"We were busy all the way through 5 p.m.," said Alek Ansley, owner of JudyBug's Books on Broadway.

Jimmy Wire, the owner of Jimmy's Jewelers on Broadway since 1984, said he had several new faces stop in and a lot more people than usual stopping by to look in the window. When he closed the store, he left items in the window which he does not usually do. He said he knew business was booming Saturday because every restaurant he went to was full.

"Any kind of exposure for downtown is welcome," Wire said. "There are more restaurants now. All of the different activities going on down here now are letting people discover what downtown has to offer."

Ansley agreed.

"What I see now is a lot more people walking with strollers and dogs," Ansley said. "There is a family atmosphere."

He said downtown has become a nice place to wander, like being on a vacation.

Though nobody expects a repeat of the kind of crowds brought by the whitewater grand opening, they are hoping it will continue to bring people here from around Columbus and elsewhere.

But it is not just the whitewater rafting attracting visitors, they said. It is free Friday night concerts and Market Days on Broadway each Saturday.

Toole said what is happening downtown, especially whitewater, is getting a lot of "positive feedback."

"People are enjoying it and telling other people about it," Toole said.

Coronado said he has lived in Columbus a long time and never seen the downtown area so alive.

"It is at its peak. City leaders are doing a good job of making things happen," he said. "We are very grateful to the community for the business that we have gotten."

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