Friday, December 9th, 2016

They skipped the Starbucks. The protestors didn’t.

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The Wisconsin State Journal tried to figure out the winners and losers for businesses near the Capitol. For some the protests were a boom. For others they were devastating.

The budget protests jammed streets and sidewalks, filled the Capitol and drew news media from afar, but the masses had a mixed impact on Downtown businesses.

“It was devastating, quite honestly,” said Lax, owner of Harvest, 21 N. Pinckney St., and where entrees range from $18 to $42. “We’re definitely looking for our business getting back to normal.”

Lax, who opened the business in 2000, had 43 cancellations Feb. 19, the first Saturday of protests, and 63 the following Saturday. By the third and fourth Saturdays, “people stopped making reservations altogether.”
She estimated her business initially dropped 30 to 40 percent and in the last few weeks was down 50 to 60 percent.

Next door at The Old Fashioned, a restaurant featuring classic Wisconsin fare that she opened in 2005, business boomed during the day but dropped off dramatically after 6 p.m., typically its busiest time.

“I had a very contrasting last month between my two businesses,” Lax said.

Interestingly, there is a business directly across from the Capitol who, by my observation, was doing gonzo business during the protests. However, the price of coffee at Starbucks hardly helps a story of starving teachers wondering where their next meal will come from.

a packed Starbucks, March 16th

I bet a lot of the coffees sold weren’t exactly “fair trade.” I wonder how many campesinos were exploited to keep the protests caffeinated? For that matter, how many taxpayers?

On the other hand, at least they didn’t torch the Starbucks.

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