- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2002

Business in Washington was as mixed as people's emotions yesterday as the nation marked the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.

The usual noontime hustle and bustle on downtown streets was missing. Customers were scarce at some shops, while sales were good at other stores particularly those selling patriotic merchandise. Restaurants were busy at lunchtime, but managers expected thinner dinner crowds.

M&S Grill, at the corner of 13th and F streets, was anticipating a slow lunchtime, but sales were right in line with a usual Wednesday as more regular customers arrived, said Jim McVeigh, general manager.

"It was a very somber lunch," Mr. McVeigh said. "Everybody I spoke with was very grateful to be here."

The day was mostly quiet for the city's museums, except for the National Museum of American History, which debuted a September 11 exhibit.

An average of 600 people an hour some decked out in red, white and blue or with tissues in hand passed through the second-floor exhibit, "September 11: Bearing Witness to History." The rest of the museum remained virtually empty.

At a slow and nearly silent pace, visitors paused to read the detailed description in front of each display. Included were the cell phone New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani used after the attacks, a New York Fire Department jacket, a torn American flag, the bullhorn President Bush used to address crews at ground zero, a piece of structural steel from the 70th floor of the South Tower and a burned television set from the command center at the Pentagon.

"It was impressive," said Douglas Paishon from Miami, who was in town for business. "There's a sense of shock. You still don't want to believe this happened."

Minnie Payne, 69, of Dallas had tears in her eyes when she left the exhibit.

"I'm so glad I'm here today," Mrs. Payne said. "It makes me love America even more."

By the end of the day, 6,838 persons had viewed the exhibit, museum officials said. On Sept. 4., the entire museum had 3,627 visitors.

"We really didn't know what to expect," said Melinda Machado, director of public relations for the museum. "We're surprised at the number of people that have come."

Outside the museum, street vendors and cabs had little business by midday.

"It's been a washout," said Steve Adko, a D.C. cabdriver. "There was too much hype about terrorism, and it has scared people from coming downtown."

Business was nearly nonexistent for the Card Gallery, a greeting-card shop in Dupont Circle.

"It's very quiet and very slow," said Manager Susan Yoo. "I thought it might pick up in the lunch rush hour, but that's not the case."

Palace Florist in Dupont Circle had a 20 percent increase in deliveries yesterday.

"I guess it depends on what you sell, but flowers are in demand this week for our regular clients and people off the street who want to commemorate the anniversary," said manager Lee Herman.

Patriotic items like American flags and pins were big sellers for Alamo Flag Co. at Fashion Centre in Pentagon City.

"In the last three days, sales have just shot up, but right now, we're seeing a trickling in of people who just visited the Pentagon memorials," said Michelle Herndon, store manager. "People are only buying the American flags, and most say it's to show support for the country for the rest of the week."

Customer traffic was lighter than usual at the Fashion Centre's Museum Co., which sells collectibles.

"We've had a few of our regular customers come in and look around, but it's been a handful," said Michael McCallvin, assistant store manager. "We thought it might pick up for lunch, but it's been pretty stagnant."

Lebanese Taverna's 1-year-old Pentagon Row location had a much slower business day than usual because of street closures around the Pentagon.

Other D.C. restaurants were full with lunchtime patrons, but a slower dinner crowd was expected as people went home after work to watch September 11 anniversary coverage on television.

"The last few days were off," said Allen Smith, general manager at Sushiko, a Japanese restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest. Mr. Smith was expecting a slow dinner crowd but perhaps more carry-out business.

Business was "a little slower" than usual at Jaleo, a Spanish restaurant at Seventh and E streets in Northwest, said Sandy Lewis, general manager. Guests came for lunch later in the day since some people were coming from memorial or commemorative services and were not in any rush to get back to work, she said.

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