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One Month After the Colfax Bridge Opens, How Is Business?

Business has picked up one month after the opening of the bridge.

For two years, the only noise that most locals who lived near the closed Colfax Bridge heard was the sound of jackhammers and electric saws.

But while the construction equipment around the bridge has grown silent with the bridge's opening on July 28, the patrons returning to their favorite restaurants in the area in significant numbers are generating plenty of noise of their own. The employees who work at those restaurants are happier for it—some, like Alex Stampf of , say their business doubled almost as soon as the bridge reopened.

"At night we're seeing a good like 150 to 200 percent increase," Stampf said. "We're doing what we were before [when the bridge was closed], and half of that amount added or double what it was."

Stampf said in almost four weeks since the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Colfax, business at the cafe has not only returned to its pre-closure numbers but seem to have even increased. He said he attributed the jump to the excitement many locals may have felt over seeing their main route to shops and restaurants on Ventura Boulevard open once again.

"We'll se in the next couple of weeks if it tapers off," he said. But really in the three weeks since the bridge has been opened, it has not tapered off at all, its only even actually gotten busier. On a Tuesday night we did what we would consider a very busy Friday."

Laura Sladicka, a former Studio City resident and owner of for 12 years, said business at her restaurant on Ventura Boulevard had increased sharply as well.

"I actually had a woman who said she moved over to Colfax and Moorpark six months ago, and had never been to our restaurant or anywhere else around here because the bridge was closed," Sladicka said. "She came the first day [the bridge] was open."

However, not all shops in the area have had as steep a rise in business as others have experienced. Farther west along Ventura, employees at andsaid though they've noticed more people biking and jogging along Ventura, the number of customers in their stores has not noticeably increased.

While he hadn't seen a rise in patrons, Alex Mead, an employee at ComicSmash!, said foot traffic along Ventura is important for the comic book store's daily business.

"We get a lot of foot traffic, period," Mead said. "That's the way its always been here, we get a lot of people who say they were walking by or driving by and find that we're here and decide to come."

Rich Lopez of Athena Cycles said he also hadn't seen a significant change in the number of customers in the shop before or after the bridge closed.

The traffic these stores have seen, or not seen, might have more to with the nature of their businesses—the customer bases for a comic book store and a bike shop are very different than restaurants like Studio Cafe and Spark. 

But employees at other restaurants in the area had similar comments—what is true for Mead and Lopez seems to be the same for employees at According to Ish Jaramillo, an employee of the restaurant that sits on the west side of Colfax Avenue in a strip mall across from the Studio Cafe. He did acknowledge that business seemed to have picked up "a little," for his restaurant, but not significantly more than when the bridge was closed. 

Though the shutdown may have come at an inopportune time for many stores in the area considering the weak state of the economy, some said closing Colfax was even worse for their business than the recession.

"It was definitely kind of a double whammy," Sladicka said. "We're a community restaurant, so we have been able to survive through all the ups and downs in the economy, and all thats been happening in the world, but when you cut off our main artery to our neighborhood, that really affected us, more so than I think the recession."

Stampf the various Jinky's locations in Los Angeles compared their business numbers with each other to see how badly the recession was affecting the number of customers, but what they also saw was the huge drop off the Colfax Avenue location experienced after the bridge closure.

"It wasn't a continuous downfall after the bridge closed, it just got slower. The people who came across the bridge just came less," Stampf said. "We consider ourselves more of a family, friends, Cheers-esque kind of restaurant…[our regulars] are a lot of our business."

While both Stampf and Sladicka said the bridge closure had been frustrating for their restaurants, they just seem happy to have their regulars back within walking distance once again.

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