Businesses on 5th are always booming during the academic year, but when construction began on the street in early June, bars and restaurants saw their bottom lines tank.
Ever since, it’s been difficult for people to drive around the area and get to their destination comfortably. This is not fun for people who want to go out for a night on the town or a lunch break during the work week, as many don’t like to walk on unpaved and uneven sidewalks. And of course, huge manholes.
Brandon Testa, owner of House of Pizza stated that throughout the course of the summer, “we had a massive hole out here for the majority of the time.”
House of Pizza is an independent shop run by Testa – he owns a few others nearby. For a company like his, he feels the burden of the construction more than a corporate company would.
There were also many days that the front door wasn’t accessible to the customers so they had to come in through the back. Testa says that it has been a tough summer, as far as truly from a revenue standpoint.
Summer is usually always a slow time for House of Pizza since students aren’t around as much. Testa said summertime was great for the construction to occur, however, “based on passed summers our business is down a minimum of 20 percent,” he said.
Nevertheless, the city was very good at communicating with the local businesses prior to the construction.
Testa mentioned that his business tried a few different techniques to keep the company afloat during construction. One attempt they did was have specials for the construction workers called “endless pizza” during lunch time.
This began a month and a half ago to get the “construction guys in and the businesses to come support,” he said.
Testa is happy that the construction is coming to an end soon. “If you had come in the early days I wouldn’t have any smile on my face because the summer has been very tough for us,” he said.
He doesn’t know if people are going to suddenly pour in after the construction is over with the new road and sidewalks, but Testa sure hopes so.
Spencer Bartz, who is the General Manager of Brothers Bar and Grill, which is a franchise throughout the Midwest, said they had to change the hours due to the construction.
Prior to the construction, Brothers used to be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. everyday, but due to lack of revenue, the bar is now closed on Mondays and opens their doors at 5 p.m. on Tuesday-Thursday, while keeping the same weekend hours.
Since business has slowed, their revenue has followed the same downwards spiral. But overall, Bartz said they still had some students come who had to walk and it still helped them out. The construction workers were also cooperative and made sure that customers were able to have access to the main door as much as they could, which Bartz said was helpful.
Bartz also shares that this kind of thing is something that the city has to do.
“There is nothing you can do about it, everyone deals with it, it wasn’t just us,” Bartz said.
Bartz doesn’t think the construction had a negative impact on the customers nor the employees. If anything, he’s optimistic about the new sidewalks, design and space for tables and chairs for the customers to enjoy.
“It’s going to look awesome out there, it’s going to be really nice going forward. I know they are adding more room on the sidewalks for seating and chairs, hopefully it will draw more people around,” Bartz said.
The construction is occurring due to a new storm drain installation and a new parking ramp. The end date for the project has not yet been specified.