‘I’ll just suck it up’; Small businesses in uptown prepare for possible loss of customers during RNC

Charlotte businesses worried RNC could cost them

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - If you can believe it, the Republican National Convention in Charlotte is just six months away. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief addressed city council about security measures for the huge event Monday night. And as CMPD finalizes the security perimeter and starts preparations in Uptown, local businesses are gearing up too.

Businesses say they’re going to take it day by day but there’s no doubt to owners that the RNC will affect their business.

Restaurants that are hosting convention goers can’t wait for the extra business. But smaller businesses are worried crowds and tighter security will cost them in the long run.

“The banks are going to tell their people to work from home and if security is going to be really tough, they’re not going to try and come out of the buildings like they normally do," said Phil Levine, who owns Phil’s Deli in uptown.

Levine has been running restaurants in Charlotte for nearly 40 years. But this will be his first time running a restaurant in uptown during a national convention. He sold his last uptown restaurant right before the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

A majority of Levine’s business relies on bank employees and foot traffic looking for lunch. He’s concerned that during the RNC, those potential customers will avoid the area.

The other concern is the potential security perimeter. Although nothing is final, Levine is concerned that the perimeter could make it harder for locals and RNC goers to get to local spots.

“We may end up closing for a few days if it’s not worth opening," Levine said.

Levine says between losing customers on those days and still paying his employees, even if they do close their doors, he’s expecting to lose money.

“I could send a bill to the Republican Party but I don’t know if they’ll reimburse me,” Levine joked.

The Republican National Convention host committee has promised an overall boost the overall local economy, including to the restaurant and hotel industry. Levine doesn’t think it will help smaller businesses, but he says he’s focusing on the overall effects for Charlotte.

“Well I was pretty happy because overall it does bring a lot of influx of people and money to the Charlotte business community," he said.

Also in uptown, Demichael Gholston worked as a barber during the DNC. He says he remembers business being slower than usual during that time.

His business relies on people walking in during their lunch or before they leave to go home for the night. He said a lot of his customers live in uptown so he’s hopeful they will stick around during the RNC.

“Most of my customers, really want their haircut. They’ll come," he said.

Chief Putney said last night to City Council that the perimeter this August will be similar to what it looked like during the DNC. It’s expected to be official and made public some time this summer.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved.