- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

Area businesses attempted to return to normal yesterday, but were still in much of a daze in the aftermath of Tuesday's deadly terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and New York's World Trade Center towers.
It was business as usual for banks, technology companies, restaurants and retailers, as well as tourist attractions like the Smithsonian Institution museums, which all reopened.
"The city is open and as much as possible operating under normal circumstances," said Brian Ullmann, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp.
But meetings, private parties and banquets scheduled throughout the city, including 17 events at the Kennedy Center planned through the end of the month, are being called off.
"Our banquet business has come to a screeching halt for the time being," said Tricia Messerschmitt, a spokeswoman for the Four Seasons Resort on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The 260-room hotel was expecting dozens of individuals, meetings and events over the next several days, but many events have been canceled, including a 400-person luncheon scheduled for yesterday. At least nine companies canceled their multiday meetings and overnight stays at the hotel, Ms. Messerschmitt said.
While Tuesday's cancellations could result in a financial loss for the hotel, Ms. Messerschmitt says that's the last thing on people's minds. The hotel has even waived its cancellation fees for meetings and hotel stays.
D.C. restaurants are also taking a hit.
While business is steady during the day and in the evening, many private parties have been called off. For instance, all dinner and private-party reservations at Tony and Joe's, a seafood restaurant on the waterfront, have been cancelled through the end of the week.
A six-day convention for the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics, which began Tuesday at the Washington Convention Center, continued yesterday despite having about half the expected 8,000 attendees, said Tony Robinson, a spokesman for the Convention Center.
"The convention center is open and we have no intention of closing," he said.
Since flights were grounded Tuesday and yesterday, with no certainty of when they will resume, many people couldn't leave the city, and new visitors couldn't get to Washington if they wanted to.
The District's hospitality industry is busy trying to provide stranded visitors with the latest information on airlines, airports, bus companies, attractions, retail stores, the government and Metro service.
"We are galvanizing the entire hospitality community to ensure we continue to provide good information and effective service to our stranded visitors and incoming groups," said William A. Hanbury, president and chief executive of the Washington, D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp. in a statement. "Our tourism community is dedicated to helping in any way possible."
Businesses in and around the District went back to work yesterday, still watching and listening to the news to keep aware of what was happening.
Many of the 15 employees at MDB Communications, an advertising firm in the District, had their radios or Internet radios tuned into the news to hear the latest.
"We're just trying to refocus, but I think folks are still tentative," said Cary Hatch, president of MDB Communications. "We're all anxious and curious."
CACI International Inc. in Arlington was open yesterday, but there was a lot of tension in the air, as some employees worked as consultants in the Pentagon, said Jody Brown, a spokeswoman for the Arlington information-technology company.
"First and foremost, we took up much of today to confirm that all consultants at the Pentagon were safe," she said. "It was such a tremendous relief to hear that confirmed."
"We're trying to go about our business as normally as possible," Ms. Brown said. "We are all feeling a sting and it hurts, but we're all just trying to move on."
Allfirst Bank, which has 48 branches locally, shut down Tuesday shortly before noon, with most other banks in the region. All branches, except the one located at Andrew's Air Force Base, reopened yesterday.
"Our employees wanted to move on and get on with business to show as a country, and as a company, that we're not going to shut down because of this. We're not going to be afraid," said Philip Hosmer, spokesman for Allfirst. "Employees here today were sad and somber, but I think you really sensed a determination in people to go on with life and business."
AOL Time Warner, with offices in Sterling, Va., went back to work yesterday with a full staff.
"There's a real sense of sadness," said Jim Whitney, a spokesman for the company. "People are trying to focus on their jobs, but like anywhere else, it's difficult," he said.
Grief counselors were available to counsel workers at AOL Time Warner offices in New York, but Mr. Whitney was not sure if such services were provided in the Sterling office.
"With everything going on, it's very distracting," said Melissa Macchiavelli, a spokeswoman for Rockville-based Federal Realty Investment Trust, the developer of Pentagon Row, a retail complex directly across from the Pentagon.
Pentagon Row tenants like Harris Teeter supermarket, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Hudson Trail Outfitters reopened for business yesterday, lending support and help to the crews across the street searching through the Pentagon rubble. A handful of retailers there remained closed all day.
"It is a very sad bonding experience," said Tracey Poyer, general manager at Pentagon Row. "I've talked to all the tenants, and the last thing they are worried about is customer flow."
Kristina Stefanova contributed to this report


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