Sidewalk project slows business at St. Elmo BBQ restaurant - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Sidewalk project slows business at St. Elmo BBQ restaurant

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"We're still open!" That's the message one St. Elmo business has for customers, after a sidewalk project is hurting business at the Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe.

The construction at the intersection of St. Elmo Ave. and Ochs Hwy. is part of the Virginia Avenue Greenway project. The neighborhood greenway will run through St. Elmo, giving residents a safe place to walk and bike.

"We're the ones taking the hit with this project, for sure," said Tony Davis, owner of Purple Daisy.

Construction right outside the restaurant started last month. The new sidewalks will connect to the Greenway, which will run from 55th St. to The Incline.

Eventually, the greenway will connect to the next phase of the Tennessee Riverwalk that will extend from downtown to The Incline.

But the growing pains have led to a tough month for the restaurant.

"It does take a toll, because the bills do not stop. They keep coming," Davis said.

He opened the restaurant in St. Elmo over 10 years ago. Despite the inconvenience, he says he's excited about the new addition to the neighborhood.

"It's gonna be a great thing," he said. "But in the meantime, it's really got our parking lot all jacked up. It looks impossible with all the digging and all the construction that's going on."

Right now, the wait staff is taking a hit, missing out on over 30 percent of sales and take-home tips.

"Trying to get people to call in orders, office orders, things like that to make it easier on them to not have to get here and not have a place to park or get in and out," Davis explained.

This part of the project is slated to be finished next month. In the meantime, Davis hopes the orange cones won't turn away more customers.

"It's not as bad as it looks," he said.

The city's transportation department is working as quick as it can to finish this phase of the construction project. It has ensured one entrance to the restaurant has remained open at all times.

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