CEDAR RAPIDS — While the concerts that came with the first “newbo evolve” festival meant business for the neighborhood’s restaurants and bars, some shop owners in the area said they saw sales drop during the three-day fest.
Days of street blockades and less-than-ideal parking in the Newbo District since Friday slowed foot traffic in the area. For some businesses, little had improved by Sunday.
At Next Page Books, owner Bart Carithers said he had sold a total of nine books after being open for three hours.
“It’s really bad,” he said. “We depend on weekend sales in the summer to get us through the year. This event has basically taken a weekend away. This hurts.”
“GO Cedar Rapids imposed this event on our neighborhood without any of our input,” Next Page’s Carithers said. “If this event were to happen again, it would be important for GO Cedar Rapids to involve this neighborhood in the planning process so it can be a win-win for everyone.”
Business improved some Saturday and Sunday for some businesses in the area, but Carithers said he was on track to do one-third of his usual sales.
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While the festival was a burden on many shops in the area, restaurants and bars that stayed open late seemed to benefit from concertgoers who flowed into the neighborhood around 11 p.m. after both Friday’s Kelly Clarkson and Saturday’s Maroon 5 shows.
The fest was a boost for Tornado’s Pub and Grub, which invested in a new outdoor patio area and additional staff for the weekend, said co-owner Thomas Slaughter on Sunday.
“During the day, we expected more, but after the concerts it was going,” Slaughter said. “Next year we’ll have an outdoor grill to take some pressure off the kitchen.
“It’s been a learning curve, but we’re looking forward to it. I hope they do it every year.”
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