Business in Loop down during NATO summit

May 21, 2012 2:42:28 PM PDT
Business was booming at Waffles, a South Loop breakfast spot, at least until the NATO summit came to town.

"We had no idea what to expect but we knew we would be slower," said Waffles general manager Jose Lopez.

Although the city says overall it's been business as usual during the NATO summit, Lopez says that wasn't the case for his eatery.

Lopez won't say exactly how much the breakfast spot nets on a Saturday and Sunday, but he says he took a hit for at least $2,000 over the weekend of the international meeting of foreign leaders. It's much the same story for other restaurants and businesses downtown who are feeling the NATO effect.

Once again, downtown was visibly emptier than on a regular Monday.

" A lot of people don't want to be bothered with this. They have the holiday next weekend," said Rebecca Welker.

To the surprise of a lot of cabbies, the summit has meant fewer customers.

"I would say that I have lost 40 percent," said Olumite Akinole, cab driver.

Many people simply opted not to come into the city because of the anticipation of possible violence from NATO protests and street closures, along with parking restrictions and public transportation schedule changes.

"On an average day we have 130 children in the program. Today we had about 30," said Jay Nowak, Rainforest Learning Center.

Some say despite the inconvenience, hosting the NATO summit will ultimately pay off with good reviews of a city struggling to be known as world class.


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