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Published: Thursday, 8/16/2012

Local businesses expect Navy Week events to provide boost

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Diners settle in at the Real Seafood Company at the Docks. General Manager Kelly Becker says she will have additional people working during the Navy Week events to accommodate an anticipated uptick in business. Diners settle in at the Real Seafood Company at the Docks. General Manager Kelly Becker says she will have additional people working during the Navy Week events to accommodate an anticipated uptick in business.
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Kelly Becker will have staff standing by at the Real Seafood Company for the expected influx of people during Navy Week.

Ms. Becker, general manager of the restaurant at the Docks entertainment complex, said she'll have five to 10 extra people working in the eatery's front area during the ship tours and more in the kitchen. You never know how many people could come in at any given moment, she said.

"The patio is only so big and we only have so much space there, but I think we'll have enough space for everybody inside," she said.

Navy Week will draw about 10,000 people and generate $500,000, according to conservative estimates, said Richard Nachazel, president of Destination Toledo Inc., the area's convention and visitors bureau. The event is hard to gauge because it's a one-of-a-kind thing -- the week is meant to commemorate the War of 1812's bicentennial.

"There has never been a Navy Week in Toledo, and a lot of people have not had a chance to see Navy ships, so that hopefully will generate a lot of interest," Mr. Nachazel said.

A variety of ships, including the Brig Niagara, a replica of a ship from Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's fleet from the Battle of Lake Erie, will be anchored at the Water Street docks and International Park for the event. The vessels will be in Toledo from Aug. 23-26.

"There will be some hotel usage both from Navy personnel coming in and families of the sailors," Mr. Nachazel said. "I think it's going to fill a lot of hotel rooms in the downtown."

Frank Melhorn, a Toledo-based attorney and port chairman of the Brig Niagara, is helping to organize the event and said businesses on both sides of the river will benefit from the event. "This is the first year the Navy has been in Toledo in a long time. We've had nothing like this in a long time," he said.

Registry Bistro is planning to have extra staff on hand during the week's events. The restaurant on North Superior Street opened in June, and co-owner Vickie Rapp said curious customers are bound to wander in during the festivities. "Our goal is to spread the word that we are here and show what we have to offer," she said.

Admiral's American Grill also is preparing with extra staff and daily lunch and dinner specials, owner Michael McKarus said.

Mr. McKarus isn't sure how many extra people he'll call in for the week but said it will be a welcome boost for his business at the Docks. "We hope for a nice crowd but I really have no idea what it'll be like."

Mr. Nachazel said it's not just downtown businesses that could benefit. People who need a last-minute item from a store might stop at the ones around Toledo. The economic boon might reach all corners of the city, he said.

"We're fortunate to have it, and I think it's going to be a rare event in the Great Lakes area," Mr. Nachazel said.

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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