Some Little Italy businesses struggling to make ends meet with cancellation of the Feast

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — A more than century-old tradition in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood that would’ve kicked off Thursday is on hold this year.

The Feast of the Assumption festival and procession were canceled in June because of the pandemic, and businesses expect to feel the impact.

“Every sidewalk would be filled with stands,” said Corbo’s Bakery Manager Domenic Corbo.

He said the Feast normally marks the business’s busiest weekend of the year.

“About a third of my business is gone because I do about 50 events a year with festivals, and that’s just like another festival for us, but it is our main event, and it is our hometown, so it hits right here for sure,” Corbo said.

The change adds insult to injury for restaurants like Trattoria, where owner Zeni Alushi estimated business is down about 60 percent this summer.

“My first reaction was like, ‘oh God,’” Alushi said.

He said the Feast usually doubles the restaurant’s business compared with a normal weekend.

“It is the biggest weekend for businesses, especially for smaller businesses in this area,” Alushi said. “They do mainly rely on the Feast of the Assumption.”

Restaurant patios remain open and food ready for customers. Alushi said Trattoria is offering specials this weekend.

“The entertainment is the only thing missing down here, but the food is always good, and safety’s always first,” he said.

The changes are not just limited to the festival in the streets. The mass celebrating the Assumption at Holy Rosary Church will be closed to the public and instead streaming online Saturday at 10 a.m.

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