Businesses have mixed views on return of Frisco promenade but most hope it becomes an annual tradition
Some enjoyed the extra foot traffic while others felt it wasn’t equitable to all businesses
As the second annual Frisco Pedestrian Promenade winds down to a close, some business owners are feeling a mix of relief and anticipation for what’s to come next year. While the pedestrian walkway benefited some, others felt it could have been tweaked or should have been done away with altogether.
For example, Ein Prosit owner Scott Pohlman said the parklets used by some of the Main Street businesses would have provided enough extra space without closing Main Street.
“I just didn’t think it was needed with the parklets that we had,” Pohlman said. “I just thought we could have kept the parklets and kept Main Street open for emergency services and utilized the parklets in the parking areas because I think those are big enough.”
Pohlman also said he thinks the blockade of the street caused some public safety issues that could have been avoided. Within the past week, he said his restaurant experienced an incident where emergency services were needed and said the closing of Main Street delayed how quickly help arrived.
“We had an incident on Sunday where we had to call 911 and emergency services,” Pohlman said. “A guy up here at altitude experienced some severe altitude sickness symptoms, so we had to call 911, and their response time was pretty long. You have to think about those kinds of issues.”
In addition to creating public safety concerns, Pohlman said he thought the promenade created equity issues and that not all businesses benefited, especially those not directly located on the blocked street.
“For us, it was great,” he said. “It did drive a little more traffic to the three blocks that were closed off with foot traffic, but I kind of feel bad for the people that were on the outskirts of it because the other services and restaurants and shops didn’t seem to fare as well as the three blocks that had it.”
Frisco Lodge owner Susan Wentworth said she understood why the promenade was held last year but that she didn’t see its value for this year, especially as a lot of business owners struggled to maintain a staff large enough to cater to additional outdoor seating. Not only that, but she said the blocked street directly impacted her business in a negative way.
“Last year, when the town first decided to do the promenade, I ran some reports on the year before about how many drive-by accommodations I had from Memorial Day through Labor Day that year, and I had 500 guest rooms that were drive-by that obviously I didn’t get to have last year. And I haven’t been able to have any drive-by, last-minute accommodation this year,” Wentworth said.
While her revenue is directly impacted, Wentworth noted that her mini-golf course outside the lodge has gotten good attendance but that it doesn’t make up for lost business. Currently, she charges $5 to play the seven-hole course and an extra $3 to play a second round.
Frisco Inn on Galena owner Bruce Knoepfel noted that the promenade had mixed views from business owners along Main Street but that he himself had “no negative feedback.”
“(I like) the atmosphere that it creates in Frisco, typically on Main Street,” he said. “The lack of cars I think are good. I’ve heard zero negative feedback from customers. I also have involvement with the Frisco Lodge on Main Street, and obviously that’s a slightly different impact.”
Knoepfel said the promenade didn’t necessarily help or hurt his bottom line, though it was generally a busy summer. Most of his guests book their reservations in advance, so the inn didn’t suffer from lack of cars driving up and down the street that might decide to book a reservation spontaneously.
Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe manager Austin Dreher said he loved the promenade this year and expects it to return in the future. Not only did it increase business, but it gave customers an enhanced experience at the cafe due to the extra tables positioned outside.
“This has been one of the most profitable years we’ve ever had as a restaurant,” Dreher said. “(We’re) hitting peak numbers and shredding sales records. We saw that last year a couple days out of last summer, but this summer, it’s been quite above any other year, and it’s incredible to have such high numbers.”
Moving forward, all but Wentworth said they’d like to see the promenade come back next year. Both Knoepfel and Dreher said the promenade made Main Street more lively and attractive for guests. Pohlman said he’d like to see a version of it return with just the parklets available to businesses that want them without the streets being blocked off entirely. As for Wentworth, she said it’s difficult to say whether she’d like it to come back for another year.
The last day of the promenade will be Sept. 12, and barriers and other fixtures will be taken down Sept. 13.
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