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Some businesses boom, others see a drought during RNC


Patrons enjoyed themselves abundantly at Noodlecat on Euclid

Jake's Pizza on the Square saw nice traffic

Easy alfresco dining on East 9th despite the surrounding spectacle

When Cleveland first learned it would be hosting the RNC, business owners throughout the region prepared for a hefty increase in customers last week.
 
Pizza Fire, which opened a year ago on Euclid, saw steady business and the line from the just-opened REBoL in Public Square had lines out the door as attendees waited patiently for a one of 90 seats in the air conditioned space.
 
Bloom Bakery, a social enterprise venture to help low income and disadvantaged adults achieve self-sufficiency through employment run by Towards Employment, opened its Public Square location in March and decided to stay open 24/7 during the convention week.
 
“Staying open for a convention like this is a gamble, says Logan Fahey, Bloom co-founder and general manager. “But for us it was more about the visibility of our mission and employing people.” The bakery added an additional eight employees, hired from the Salvation Army Northeast Ohio, to its 15-person staff for the week.
 
The gamble paid off. “On Monday we had a steady flow of convention guests, and then Tuesday through Thursday it really picked-up and we had built a loyal convention customer base that sustained us through the week,” Fahey says. “Most of the customers were international media guests who utilized Bloom's chic cafe atmosphere and free Wi-Fi.” 
 
Fahey reports that media tended to stay in Bloom until 2 a.m., before catering to the bar crowds in the wee hours of the morning.
 
The seven temporary retail stores that set up shop in the Arcade for the RNC saw a steady stream of business as visitors popped in and out of the historic mall on Euclid. Actress and Cleveland native Monica Potter was on hand in her Monica Potter Home pop-up location for most of the week.
 
Store employee Stephanie Dietelbach said business was good last week, but they had yet to make a decision on whether the store would make the Arcade a permanent home. She said the decision would be made in early August.
 
While businesses around the city center saw a hefty draw of customers, anything outside of a two-block radius was a ghost town. Even area bars and restaurants that had booked private events during the convention reported that they saw a decrease in their regular clientele.
 
Hofbrauhaus in Playhouse Square, which brought in a “security dog” – Reagan, an eight-year-old Dachshund – to greet and protect biergrarten guests, was popular with the few guests who opted to patronize the near-empty restaurant.
 
Yet Hofbrauhaus spokesperson Andrea Mueller was upbeat about the week. “Business was slow,” she says. “A lot of the folks that would normally come down didn't. We did have some private parties, so those were our saving grace. But, it's the price we had to pay for such a great event to come into town.”
 
The bars along West 25th Street in Ohio City, many of which had secured the 4 a.m. provisional liquor license, sat open, waiting for business. While many of the bars along the strip had booked private parties for the RNC, Market Garden Brewery, among other establishments, saw a marked lack of traffic and begged folks to come out on its Facebook page, posting photos of an empty bar at 4 a.m.

"We've been very busy, but our business volume has been inverted," owner Sam McNulty said last week. "Instead of a lot of foot traffic and a few events, we've been tremendously busy with events and have seen very little of our local guests and regulars."
 
By the time RNC came to a close and the visitors cleared out of the city, business was back to normal and the regulars began flocking back to their usual haunts.

"I miss my regular customers," said the young woman manning the cash register at Jake's Pizza last Tuesday. "I can't wait for Monday."

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 18 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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