- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Heat on July Fourth and the threat of a terrorist attack kept revelers away from downtown, hurting sales, local business owners say.

"Business was off just a bit from the previous year," said Jim McVeigh, general manager at the M&S Grill at 13th and F streets NW. "Talking to people including a lot of policemen, everyone was fairly stunned as to the lack of crowds. We had a group of about six people who walked out of here at about 9 p.m. and found a spot to watch the fireworks, and that just couldn't happen last year.

"In talking to a lot of guests on Friday and today, a lot of people didn't come downtown because they didn't want to fight the crowd," he said. "What came through a lot was the heat. It kept a lot of people away."

Dan Kuper, general manager at Fuddruckers in Dupont Circle, also had slower business than expected.

"We certainly were a little less that we anticipated," Mr. Kuper said. "There were less people down on the Mall from last year, and the heat certainly didn't help." Fuddruckers was closed July Fourth last year.

Despite the lack of crowds, Mr. Kuper regrets not staying open later.

"There were a lot of people coming off of the Mall after the celebration looking for food, and we had already closed," he said. "Next year we know to stay open for those people."

While M&S Grill stayed open later, the bar business fared better last year, Mr. McVeigh said.

"Our bar got hit afterward," he said. "People were ordering water. But we just didn't do nearly as much bar business, and that is the difference in the sales."

Marsha Rosenthall, executive director of the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, said commerce was solid and "manageable." The Triangle district is bounded by Dupont Circle, 21st Street NW, Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street NW.

"It went wonderfully. We've had no stories of the bizarre or anything," she said.

She said some people visited the Triangle district to view the fireworks.

"We do know a lot of folks ventured down here to watch the fireworks from newly renovated buildings," she said. "Businesses were strong."

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