Economy challenges downtown businesses despite new additions

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alleyway, the Renaissance Hotel and Spa and the much-improved riverfront, no doubt the face of downtown, have changed. But so has the economy.

"We're flat."

Mary Jiles of Subway Sandwich Shop says business is so-so despite the new additions to downtown Montgomery. It's the economy that's forcing businesses like Subway to think of new ways to lure more customers. The diner has a plan and it's quite dramatic.

"We plan to renovate the entire restaurant and it should be finished by 2010," said Jiles.

At the Brew Pub, co-owner Chris Ellis says he's had to cut hours for his employees because of the economy but shudders to think where he would be now without the new hotel, minor league baseball and the redeveloped riverfront.

"We're doing okay because of those things," said Ellis.

Ellis, too, has made it a point to become more customer-friendly, ordering his waiters and waitresses to do the same.

"You have to make them want to come back because they have more choices now," said Ellis.

Jennifer Price is the Communications Director for the Alabama Restaurant and Food Association.

"We know a lot of restaurants have had to change their menus and think outside the box to get more people in," said Price.

Sign of the times, a challenging economy yet folks like Ellis and Jiles aren't giving up.