Baseball means home run for downtown businesses

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Bob Parker opened Dreamland Barbeque nearly a year ago.  It's right down the street from Riverwalk Stadium.

"It gave us great exposure," says Parker.

At that time, a vibrant downtown was still a dream.

But Parker believed with baseball and barbeque...he'd hit one out of the park.

"We didn't expect there to be this many people downtown even with baseball starting.  We were surprised how successful we were in the beginning," he says.

Now, baseball season's here again--this time with two new players in town--SaZa's Italian restaurant and Wintzell's Oyster House.

"I think people can come down and say let's go downtown and see where we go to eat once we get down there," says Wintzell's Manager, Frank Hall.

He opened in the fall and expects his first ball season to score big.

"We feel that there's a lot to choose and a lot of new advantages for people to come and see the Montgomery Biscuits, but check out the restaurants downtown, too."

Fans are ready to sample the options.

"They gotta have some place they can come before the game, after the game, and I think with what you got going on, this place here is absolutely fantastic," says Wayne Allen of Phenix City.

"When we used to come to the games, there was really nothing to do, or very little to do.  Now there's the Alley Bar, there's Wintzell's, there's Dreamland.  It's a big draw when you're coming to the game," says Tallassee resident Linda Marvel.

It's a good sign the bases are covered for more downtown success.

"It's exciting to be a part of something that's pretty cool," says Parker.

Restaurants hope to seat customers quickly this season despite being packed.

Wintzell's added more employees to help with the rush.

Dreamland managers say they're waiting to see how the season goes and may expand the restaurant in their basement.

Because of the rainout, the MAX Capital City Classic has been postponed until March 24th.

The Montgomery Biscuits open their season April 8th.

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