The upcoming reopening of Cecil Ashburn has commuters rejoicing as they look forward to cutting their driving time down considerably.
Business owners are also rejoicing, as they anticipate a return to normalcy and faster commutes for themselves and their clientele when two lanes of the road are scheduled to open by the end of the month.
Ben Patterson, general manager of Mellow Mushroom in Jones Valley, admitted that the restaurant has taken a hit, as diners have chosen to go elsewhere for pizza rather than brave the traffic from the other side of the mountain.
“It has definitely hurt business,” he said. “We have been down quite a bit since January.”
Widely known for its eclectic, funky atmosphere, Mellow Mushroom does have some pretty loyal clientele and Patterson added that although they did continue to see many of their regular diners at dinner and lunch, the overall numbers were down through the winter.
“We did have an ok summer,” Patterson said. “Our projections were a little off and we did a little better than we thought we would.”
As for their neighbors across the street at Terrame Day Spa, business has remained steady. Owner Charles Johnson said his business has fared well throughout the shutdown.
“We have been very fortunate because people make appointments with us and they are able to plan it out a little bit,” he said.
Since the closing of Cecil Ashburn in January, an average 10-minute commute can take as much as 25 minutes, and Johnson believes the inconvenience of the extra drive time weighs heavily on the consumer’s decision on where to eat and shop.
He said Terrame has fared well during the shutdown due to it being a largely appointment-based establishment with a very loyal customer base.
“Business has remained steady,” Johnson said. “But I know, with restaurants and other businesses, the plans are often made at the last minute.”
According to the city, the asphalt wearing layer, temporary striping and traffic control devices will be installed on the eastbound lanes prior to reopening two lanes to traffic.
Other work, including completing concrete ditches along the north side and completion of the remaining lanes on Sutton Road, will continue after October.
The $18 million project is expected to be completed by May 2020.