Biz Buzz

Many Avila Beach businesses hope Tour of California boosts sales

jhickey@thetribunenews.comMay 14, 2013 

Front Street in Avila Beach is set to be the site of the stage five finish for the 2013 Amgen Tour of California.


Tour of California cyclists racing into Avila Beach on Thursday are expected to bring unprecedented crowds and increased sales to beachfront businesses — but at least one owner is not thrilled at the prospect.

Joe Momma's Coffee, which is directly at the finish line, will be closed, and a sign on the door will read: “Please go away Amgen and don’t ever come back.”

Shop owner Michael Kidd believes contingency and parking plans for the event are lacking, and is concerned that his employees would not be able to make it into Avila Beach, find parking, or be able to leave when their shift is over.

“We think it’s unsafe, so we are not allowing our employees to work that day, and we are discouraging our regular customers from coming,” Kidd said.

Organizers have estimated that about 7,500 people will be in Avila Beach to watch the stage finish, with approximately 2,000 parking spots in the area. The county has provided parking passes to employees of local businesses, which will allow them to park on the golf course.

Other businesses are optimistic, and plan to capitalize on the crowds.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Darren Smith, CEO of Compass Health, which owns The Custom House on Front Street.

“The county has done a great job communicating with us,” he said.

The restaurant has moved up morning shifts and delayed evening shifts to accommodate road closures, and is organizing carpools for employees.

Parking shouldn’t be an issue for Bill Price, who with his wife owns Beachcomber Bill's, Sea Barn, Footseas and Hula Hut. He is beginning work at 5 a.m., to bake pastries to sell to people setting up for the race.

“Bring it on. We’re ready,” Price said. He has increased staffing and has also created carpools.

Price thinks that Thursday will be no different that any Sunday that’s 90 degrees. “I’ve been here 27 years. I’ve seen 4th of July when the place is a zoo. ... You can only put so many people on Avila Beach,” he said.

Despite the increased crowds on the day of the event, the tour so far has not increased heads in beds at Avila Lighthouse Suites. Noreen Martin, who owns the hotel’s parent company, Martin Resorts, said that occupancy this Wednesday is the same as it was last year, at around 85 to 95 percent.

But day-of sales is not the goal in attracting the tour, Martin said, noting “We didn’t expect it to fill hotels.”

Because the picture-perfect Avila Beach finish will be broadcast on televisions across the world, Martin hopes that international tourists will remember Avila Beach, adding SLO County to their list of places to visit.

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