Lower Manhattan Businesses Hope Fewer Protesters Mean More Customers

The removal of the Occupy Wall street encampment from Zuccotti Park has left some downtown stores and restaurants optimistic that their business will soon return to normal.

Stacy Tzortzatos, co-owner of Panini and Company across the street from the park, said she has already seeing an uptick of business in the café from former regulars.

 "We had a burst of energy in here, people we hadn't seen in a long time because they couldn't come through the barricading or they just didn't want to see what was in front of the door," she said.

Tzortzatos said her receipts had been down between 30 percent, due in large part from the lack of easy access from police barricades in Lower Manhattan.

Manager of The Essex World Cafe on Liberty Street, Elio Garcia, said in addition to the barricades, the crowding and chaos of the protests were a drain to his business. Garcia said he doesn’t blame his customers for the dip in sales over the past two months.

"Would you go down a dark alley with smelly people on the corner with hairs and tattoos and curses and naked women? Would you yourself? I wouldn't,” he said.

Garcia said his business fell 20 percent when the occupiers arrived in September but added the lunch rush was starting to return on Wednesday.

But the Manager of Steve's Pizza on Trinity Place, Ricky Martinez, said even as locals and office workers stopped by less, they actually got a boost from sympathizers of the anti-Wall Street movement. "We delivered some pies from people from other states. We were okay. We didn't have any trouble, except for the bathrooms."

Martinez said he has nothing against the protesters but is glad the area seems calmer for now.

Members of the Occupy Wall Street Community relations committee said they worked with local businesses and created a merchant hotline number to address ongoing concerns.

Zuccotti Park was largely empty Wednesday because of the rain. Protesters found shelter in public indoor areas nearby.