Early Christmas present for downtown merchants

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Dreamland Barbecue Manager, Edwina Brown, isn't used to seeing so much foot traffic in her restaurant--especially at the end of the year.

"It's been amazing. It's been totally amazing."

She'll tell you, December isn't known for business boosts.

She believes an increase in downtown events and conventions have helped get people in the door.

"There are a lot more things downtown that people can come down here. A lot more attractions, and a lot of people are hearing about different things and they're checking the alley out."

She's not the only one noticing the increase.

Managers at the Renaissance Hotel and Spa say most of their rooms stayed booked during the first half of the month.

While some downtown merchants will tell you December as a whole has been great, not all of them can say that about Christmas week.

"It's always slow around this time because people are out shopping, they're out at East Chase, Ann Street, and other places like that," says Brown.

Sales at Dreamland and the Renaissance Hotel have declined as the holiday nears.

Not the case, though, for Saza Italian restaurant manager Jeff Tharp--who hasn't seen a drop in business all month.

"Christmas week has been crazy here this year."

Tharp says he even had to stop taking reservations because the restaurant was full.

"It's really great for downtown Montgomery. I think all of downtown Montgomery seems to be a little busier this year than last year," says Tharp.

It's an unexpected Christmas surprise merchants hope continues into the new year.

Managers at some East Montgomery hotels there tell us they've seen heavy foot traffic this Christmas, too.

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