NYC Cashes In on Convention

Some New York City businesses raked in cash as the Republican National Convention (search) came to town this week, while others saw a lull and could not wait until convention-goers went home.

"People are coming in all the time. It's great," said Kasia, a hostess at Stage Door Deli (search), a restaurant steps from Madison Square Garden and within the security perimeter.

The restaurant, which was right next to the media's workspace at the convention, was filled with reporters, police officers and others all week and at practically all hours. The restaurant did not close until 2 a.m. each night and was open again four hours later.

Location was a big part of whether businesses made money on the week, and some businessmen longed for the return of their regular clientele, many of whom fled the city ahead of the convention.

But overall, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (search) office declared the convention an economic success, with businesses not only doing well, but also likely to experience future economic gains as the city burnished its image among visitors from across the country.

"[In the] short term I'm very positive [about the] long-term enormous benefits," Bloomberg said in his weekly radio show on Friday. Preliminary data from the mayor's office on Friday estimated that the convention generated a net positive impact of $255 million on the city's economy.

Not unexpectedly, the hotel business was believed to be one of the biggest winners.

"It's been full. All the hotels in the city actually. It's been jam-packed," said Robert, a front-desk employee at the Renaissance Hotel (search) on Times Square, which hosted delegates and members of the media.

But not every business in midtown Manhattan did well this week. Businesses catering to office workers, many of whom chose to take the week off, suffered.

"It's been slow," said an employee at Pax Whole Foods on 49th Street and 7th Avenue. The worker added that many of the small restaurant's regular breakfast crowd had not been in.

New York's Little Italy (search) neighborhood hoped to capitalize on the convention, and wooed delegates with special discounts for those displaying convention credentials. One restaurant owner, Salvatore Sarna of Benito II (search), said he was more than "happy to give discounts of 15 or 20 percent" but "nobody came."

Sarna had displayed a sign welcoming convention-goers, but complained that his restaurant had been largely empty during the week, estimating that business was down 40 percent. "I'm waiting for George Bush to leave town" so my customers come back, Sarna said on Thursday.

Bloomberg acknowledged the damage to some businesses.

"There are people who get hurt whenever the economy changes, whenever there's any event ... but on balance" it was good for the New York City economy, he said.

The city of Boston also predicted that the Democratic National Convention (search) would have a positive impact on the area to the tune of $154 million. But many professionals and taxi drivers complained that business was down because their regular customers had left town to avoid the convention.

The Beacon Hill Institute (search), a think tank at Boston's Suffolk University, had predicted the city would take a loss on the convention, but in a report released last month it found that the city netted an extra $14.8 million over the four-day event.