South County Beat: West Grand in Grover asks you over

The blue-and-green-colored sidewalk glints in the sunlight, and at night, small white lights strung around the trunks of palm trees twinkle invitingly on a short stretch of West Grand Avenue in Grover Beach.

The result of a $1.7 million project finished in September “looks fantastic,” as one local business owner put it.

But several shop owners say they are still trying to win back customers who may have avoided the area during the nearly six months of construction, road closures and dust at the city’s western gateway.

“It took a while for people to register that it’s done,” said Chris Rivas, who estimated his restaurant, Station Grill, lost about $20,000 during the construction. “Business is not back to normal.”

Former regulars have trickled back in, Rivas said, but some people may still be stuck in new habits developed while crews worked from March to September last year.

The project, funded with a combination of federal and state grants and money from the city’s Improvement Agency, added colorful new sidewalks, landscaped medians, crosswalks, palm trees and benches to West Grand Avenue between Second and Fourth streets.

As construction continued through the summer, city officials offered businesses 20 percent of their rent for three months and spent $9,000 on promotional advertising and signs.

“People are relieved that it’s over,” said Amanda Rounds, who opened her Shell Beach Floral Design storefront about six months before the construction started March 22, 2010. “I have noticed more traffic, more flow.”

The continued slow pace could also be hampered by the economy and the recent rainy weather, said Rivas and other business owners.

For them, the summer can’t come fast enough.

“We lost a lot of business last year,” said Yolanda DeAlba, owner of Juanita’s Homemade Mexican Food. “A lot. I hope this summer to pick it up a little bit.”

Grover improvement group wanted

A quick side note: Rounds is trying to start a business owners association, similar to Arroyo Grande’s Village Improvement Association or the Shell Beach Improvement Group.

“It would be nice to see Grover get more business as well as be more of a place on the map,” Rounds said. She’ll host a reception April 29 with photographer Guy Jones at her shop and is urging other local businesses to also stay open late that evening.

For more information about the art opening or to get involved in the association, contact Rounds at 474-9710.

Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.