Construction killing businesses at Queen & Broadview
Summer and road closures go hand in hand in Toronto, but this year has been particularly harsh with a string of shutdowns stretching along Queen St. as the TTC repairs aging infrastructure. The latest neighbourhood to feel the squeeze? Riverside, which has spent the past month cut off from traffic - and TTC service via the King and Queen streetcars - by a major closure at Queen and Broadview. The road has been torn up since June 30, and with nine days to go in the project, local restaurants and shops are struggling.
Michael Summerfield, of Prohibition, estimates a 30% to 35% drop in business this month. "I know we're probably one of the least impacted," he adds. "There are some places that are just completely dead - they probably have a 60, 70, 80% drop in sales."
They mulled shutting down the restaurant for the month, but instead opted to drum up extra business by giving away a $50 gift card at lunch and dinner each day, as well as offering a $500 "VIP party" to their most frequent customer in July, a promotion that he says has softened the blow slightly. Summerfield adds Dimensions Custom Framing also began offering a $50 discount on $200 purchases to coincide with the shutdown.
"The city and the TTC really don't care about the businesses in the area - 'cause if they did, they'd do more to try to help us," Summerfield says. "Do we get a break in our taxes? Are we compensated for the lost revenue? I understand this stuff has to be done, but considering the area that this is in, and the fact that we cater mostly to locals, you'd think they'd try to work with the businesses more."
It's not just businesses taking notice of the lull: Food blogger Joel MacCharles, of wellpreserved.ca, visited three restaurants in one night this week and found a grand total of eight diners between them. He's hosting an event tonight at Hi-Lo Bar to drum up business for some of those local spots, with proceeds going to charity.