Was the Grand Prix a win for businesses? Depends on who you ask

BALTIMORE - You can't stuff 150-thousand people into downtown without having some impact on the economy.

But as for who won and lost when it comes to dollars and cents, the answer might depend on who you ask.

Mondays are usually a slow day for restaurants, but not this one. At Regi's American Bistro in Federal Hill, they're at full speed. The restaurant is crowded for holiday brunch after a long Grand Prix weekend to the delight of owner Alan Morestein, "I'm elated. I can't wait until next year."

Morestein is running on adrenaline from the big event, which meant a 20-percent bump in business for his restaurant, even though it sits just outside the section of town blocked off by the track. Morestein says it was staggering to see the jump in profits over a big weekend this time last year, "In the beginning of the week I thought there's no way we can beat these numbers. Well, we crushed the numbers versus last year when Maryland played Navy."

For the restaurant biz, the race had an impact as loud as the racing cars, but other businesses in Federal Hill say they were left spinning their wheels. Penny Troutner owns Light Street Cycles. She says, "Sunday was completely dead. It was a waste to be here."

But Troutner kept her shop open anyway while other businesses close by closed their doors, assuming they'd take a loss. She thinks the hype about traffic scared off a lot of customers and believes those that were ready to spend didn't go far past the track. Troutner says, "A lot of people stayed out of the city, regular shoppers and I had the impression that most of the visitors were in this self enclosed area. It was a very self contained event."

Next year Troutner hopes the city spreads the wealth and does more to break down the barriers for shops and restaurants who felt left out, outside the fence, "In the end, the more businesses that do well in the city, the better for us all."

Visit Baltimore says numbers detailing economic impact on the city will be available on Thursday.

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