Dropping COVID-19 restrictions and the first major holiday of the summer joined forces to provide a welcome boost to local businesses who saw an increase in customers, including some who were the busiest they’ve been since the start of the pandemic.
The Courtyard by Marriott and Hampton Inn and Suites, both downtown, were busy, manager Ben Blackwell says, with each having one of their biggest weekends since the start of the pandemic.
Friday and Saturday were a mix of locals and visitors, he says, and while Sundays are usually a slower day, the fireworks show over the Mississippi attracted more guests. “After not having those fireworks on the river during COVID last year, people really wanted to get back out and celebrate.”
The fireworks also sparked business at Capital City Grill, kitchen manager Joshua Sneed says, where a wall of windows draw large crowds to the restaurant. Capital City Grill opened for the afternoon on Sunday, rather than its usual brunch, with Sneed estimating the restaurant saw about 25% more customers than it would on a usual weekend.
Meanwhile, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport had one of its strongest weekends since the pandemic began, says Jim Caldwell, marketing, public relations and air service development manager at the airport. Holiday weekend travelers didn’t quite reach the numbers of 2019, but Caldwell estimates they go within 80%, which is just above the national average of 78%.