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Hotels, restaurants struggle with lost business due to virtual convention

The Democratic National Convention was supposed to bring 50,000 visitors to Milwaukee, but on the convention’s opening day, the streets were empty and the only evidence a big event is happening is security fencing outside the Wisconsin Center.Restaurants and hotels were banking on big business from the convention until the pandemic altered plans. “From a business owner’s perspective, the DNC going virtual, what does that mean for you?” WISN 12 News reporter Melissa McNulty said. “Absolutely it means we’re not having the foot traffic we were expecting,” McNulty said. She owns the Wisconsin Cheese Mart across the street from where all the action would have happened. “Dairy farmers from the state of Wisconsin,” McNulty said. “People who may not have been familiar with our store before definitely would have heard about us, maybe come to visit us.”It’s the same reality for local restaurant Brick 3 Pizza. “I remember before corona happened, we were taking months ahead of time just to make sure we have the staff, make sure we have capacity,” manager Enrique Perez said. “Fifty-thousand people that we were originally planning for, it just would have been so crowded around here, business would have been very good,” Major Goolsby’s general manager Marty Petricca said. Hotels with empty lobbies and empty rooms.The Iron Horse Hotel said rooms originally booked for the DNC have been pulled. “The change to a virtual convention took all of that business away,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. Barrett said it doesn’t help that businesses were already struggling. “But the real curveball that I think all of us recognize, is the pandemic because that has had a far more serious impact on our hotel industry, on our restaurant industry,” Barrett said. The convention runs through Thursday.

The Democratic National Convention was supposed to bring 50,000 visitors to Milwaukee, but on the convention’s opening day, the streets were empty and the only evidence a big event is happening is security fencing outside the Wisconsin Center.

Restaurants and hotels were banking on big business from the convention until the pandemic altered plans.

“From a business owner’s perspective, the DNC going virtual, what does that mean for you?” WISN 12 News reporter Melissa McNulty said.

“Absolutely it means we’re not having the foot traffic we were expecting,” McNulty said.

She owns the Wisconsin Cheese Mart across the street from where all the action would have happened.

“Dairy farmers from the state of Wisconsin,” McNulty said. “People who may not have been familiar with our store before definitely would have heard about us, maybe come to visit us.”

It’s the same reality for local restaurant Brick 3 Pizza.

“I remember before corona happened, we were taking months ahead of time just to make sure we have the staff, make sure we have capacity,” manager Enrique Perez said.

“Fifty-thousand people that we were originally planning for, it just would have been so crowded around here, business would have been very good,” Major Goolsby’s general manager Marty Petricca said.

Hotels with empty lobbies and empty rooms.

The Iron Horse Hotel said rooms originally booked for the DNC have been pulled.

“The change to a virtual convention took all of that business away,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Barrett said it doesn’t help that businesses were already struggling.

“But the real curveball that I think all of us recognize, is the pandemic because that has had a far more serious impact on our hotel industry, on our restaurant industry,” Barrett said.

The convention runs through Thursday.