Expected RNC business a bust for downtown bars, restaurants

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Bars and restaurants in Cleveland prepared for crowds during the Republican National Convention by stocking up on extra inventory and hiring additional staff but on the final day of the convention many say they have not seen anything close to the crowds they expected.

From the bars on West 6th street to the trendy restaurants on West 9th Street to the Flats, even the bars that were given permission to stay open until 4 a.m. have been closing early.

Their regular lunchtime and after-work crowds are gone, and many of the delegates and visitors for the convention have stayed either close to their motels or to the convention sites without venturing far from the perimeter.

"I was thinking it was going to be packed from the time I got in here until the time I left, it was going to be a constant flow of people in and out," said Selena Garcia, of Spirits on West 6th.

The bar was among those that was permitted to stay open until 4 a.m. during the convention, but Garcia said they have been closing at midnight because the crowds haven't materialized.

At the nearby Barley House, Christie Novack said several private parties have saved them but without them their business would be down from what it normally is.

Gates and security and businesses allowing their employees to work from home this week has kept the regulars away.

Delegates say they are also enjoying the food and entertainment available in the "Freedom Plaza" that had been set up between the Quicken Loans Arena and Progressive Field.

Some, like alternative Delegate John Schmidt, of Buffalo, New York, admits he is among the visitors who are not partying after the convention.

"I walk back to my hotel room I call my wife and and I go to sleep....sorry," said Schmidt.

Although it had also been permitted to stay open until 4 a.m., the Barley House has also been closing early, shutting its doors at it's regular closing time of 2:30 a.m.

On Thursday, some of the convention visitors were wandering out  to restaurants they had not yet visited, but with the week almost over the local businesses are disappointed by the fact that the expectations for them to enjoy a windfall during the convention were so far off the mark.

Some say they can't wait for the convention to leave.

"I'm not making any money like I think I should be right now so I'd rather them go so we can resume to how downtown used to be," said Garcia.

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