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Downtown businesses get much-needed boost from NBA All-Star Weekend

Downtown businesses get much-needed boost from NBA All-Star Weekend
Posted at 4:35 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 18:48:58-05

CLEVELAND — With the 2022 NBA All-Star Game in the books, Cleveland businesses are now balancing their books after all the excitement. Many got a much-needed boost from the crowds and celebrities that flocked to the city for the weekend.

“We're all a little beat up. But it was a great weekend,” said Mike Potraffke, the director of operations for Harry Buffalo.

At Harry Buffalo on East 4th Street, Potraffke said they’re recovering from the busy weekend.

“Everybody had fun. Bar made a lot of money. All our staff made a lot of money. The whole city made a lot of money. So it was great,” said Potraffke.

Michelob ULTRA rented out the entire bar for the weekend to turn it into a club called Boom Shakalaka’s, paying homage to the NBA Jam video game with performances from DJ Jazzy Jeff and rapper Fat Joe.

“February, traditionally, it's the slowest month in the restaurant industry nationwide. So to have a weekend that every day, all day every day was jam-packed was fantastic,” said Potraffke.

The crew at Zanzibar restaurant told a similar story. They had their own star-studded line-up of diners–stars like rapper Offset, Mary J. Blige, and Magic Johnson.

“Ate good, drank, partied. They were playing all Mary J. music back there, so it was really nice,” said general manager Susan Singleton.

Singleton said sales did well across the board, both food and drinks at the bar, and things were still busy Monday with some folks still in town.

It's a big boost to their bottom line.

“Right after Valentine’s Day normally that's when everything starts picking back up. So to have the All-Star Weekend, like right after Valentine's Day, it was amazing,” said Singleton.

The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission predicted a $100 million impact for the city during All-Star weekend.

“It's measured by outside dollars being spent in the local community that otherwise would not have been here. So you or I going around spending doesn't count because presumably those dollars we didn't spend this weekend, we would have spent it somewhere else in town over the course of a few weeks on entertainment. So it's all purely dollars in people's pockets that otherwise would not have been there,” said Greater Cleveland Sports Commission CEO David Gilbert.

Gilbert said while the official numbers aren’t in yet, he believes with the activity and excitement he saw around the city it could even surpass that which is huge for businesses.

“The infusion of these kinds of dollars over the past week makes a big difference in making sure that, you know, quite frankly, many of these restaurants can help make their year by having the kind of week they had just the past several days,” said Gilbert.

That's certainly the case for Singleton who said the All-Star exposure has helped tremendously.

“I think we'll just keep going up from now. You know, normally after February going into March, it just gets busier and busier,” said Singleton.

Potraffke said that while this year doesn’t compare to the NBA Championships in 2016, it's a high point during the uncertainty of the pandemic.

“These are the times where it's a constant grind and to have a massive weekend like we did on the national stage was great,” Potraffke said.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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