Blues means business

June 01, 2000|By KERRI SACCHET

For some local businesses, the Western Maryland Blues Fest is more than just a day of music and festivities.

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Business increases at many hotels, motels, and restaurants during the Blues Fest, and some establishments are offering special packages to coincide with the event.

Personnel at some downtown restaurants said they appreciate the additional customers the Blues Fest sends their way, and some plan to offer live music in keeping with that of the festival.

Cheryl Kenney, owner of Roccoco restaurant in downtown Hagerstown, said the restaurant changes its hours during the festival.

"During the Blues Fest, we are open Saturday for lunch, which we normally are not, and we keep the bar open later at night because people are still in that bluesy mood," Kenney said.


Roccoco will offer live music inside the restaurant.

"It keeps us very busy. On Friday and Saturday we are having Mr. Downchild play for us, and that will be a special thing because we usually don't have bands," Kenney said.

Schmankerl Stube owner Charles Sekula said he has noticed an upswing in business during the Blues Fest.

"Every year I have seen an influx from the Blues Fest; the organizers have really done a magnificent job to help the business community and the community as a whole," Sekula said.

Sekula said his South Potomac Street restaurant sets up a stand at which blues fans can sample German cuisine such as bratwurst and apple streusel cake.

The Grille at Park Circle restaurant is featuring a barbecue and live bands Mr. Downchild and the Blue Comets, restaurant owner Dick Roulette said.

"This is the third year that we have featured these events and they have been successful," Roulette said, "We are generally busy anyway on the weekends, but during the Blues Fest we do see people from outside the area that we normally wouldn't see."

The Four Points Hotel on Dual Highway offers a special package that includes an overnight stay, a bottle of champagne, and a meal credit to be used in the restaurant, said Betsy DeVore, director of sales and marketing.

"We are just about sold out, and we have filled up quicker this weekend than in the past," DeVore said.

DeVore said the Four Points Hotel is a sponsor of the Blues Fest, and personnel there notice that the festival benefits both their hotel and the area.

"We are very pleased. It does a lot for the community and attracts a lot of attention for Hagerstown, and that is good for us," DeVore said.

Managers from both the Venice Inn and the Ramada Inn said they have not seen a large increase in the number of guests during the Blues Fest, and more of their bookings are related to conferences.

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