Saturday, July 19, 2003

Cafes hope music drums up business

Fort Thomas combines concert series, discounts

By Angie Gillespie
Enquirer contributor

FORT THOMAS - Business owners hope the duet of summer sounds and discounted meals will attract more customers to Fort Thomas in the coming weeks.

During this city's free summer concert series at the Fort Thomas Amphitheater, 12 of the city's 16 restaurants are offering specials.

Ballgame, 915 N. Fort Thomas Ave.; BleubirdCafe, 654 Highland Ave.; Domino's Pizza, 90 Alexandria Pike; Fort Thomas Carry-Out, 2179 Memorial Parkway; Fort Thomas Pizza, 1109 S. Fort Thomas Ave.; The Grille at the The Olde Fort Pub, 1041 S. Fort Thomas Ave.; Midway Cafe, 1017 S. Fort Thomas Ave.; Pariani's Deli, 1045 S. Fort Thomas Ave.; Schrader's Sweets 'N More, 48 N. Fort Thomas Ave.; Snappy Tomato Pizza, 1177 S. Fort Thomas Ave.; Southside Deli Mart, 1175 S. Fort Thomas Ave.; Towne Center Convenient, 42 N. Fort Thomas Ave.
The concert series, offered since 1998, consists of six concerts per summer.

The city's Renaissance Committee decided last year to pair the event with discounted restaurant specials to boost the city's economy.

Some restaurant owners said this promotion, known as "Eating in Fort Thomas," was much needed after the opening of big-city attractions such as Newport on the Levee, which have taken away some of their revenue.

Steve Kruse, co-owner of The Olde Fort Pub, said his business gets by.

"(But) the more we can educate the community that we have a lot of good food locally, the better," Kruse said.

Jay Treft, assistant city administrator and economic development director, agrees.

"With the independent businesses in town, it is a struggle competing with larger chain establishments," Treft said.

"If the businesses capture more of the local spending dollar of its residents, that would be a big difference right there."

Treft said this year's rainy weather might have affected attendance.

In past summers, concerts averaged 250 to 300 people.

Three concerts into this series, the average attendance has been about 165 people.

The remaining concerts begin at 7 p.m. and feature local groups such as Alletory (Tuesday), The Mistics (Aug. 5) and the Cincinnati Metropolitan Orchestra (Aug. 19).

In case of rain, concerts will be moved to the Community Center, next to the amphitheater.

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