The Interstate 5 Bridge project isn’t affecting downtown Vancouver businesses much, but in Portland, it’s blocking Jantzen Beach restaurants and retail stores from much-needed revenue during the pandemic.
Business is down roughly 50 percent, according to a handful of store managers who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak on their company’s behalf. One manager said that Jantzen Beach is a “ghost town.” Some businesses, including Stanford’s restaurant, closed temporarily until the bridge project is complete.
There are about 28 stores and restaurants in the Jantzen Beach Center development area, with many more around it, including BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Cafe Del Toro and Hooter’s.
Jason Fish, co-owner of 3 Sheets at the Harbor restaurant at Jantzen Beach, said that most businesses on Hayden Island are down significantly because of the project — that’s on top of the COVID-19 impacts.
“We are down, just from last week, easily 50 percent,” Fish said. “We chose to stay open because a lot of people live on the island.”
Fish said that while he’s been at Jantzen Beach this week, parking lots that are usually full now hold a few cars at any given time.
Leslie Rosa, general manager at Boomer’s BBQ at Jantzen Beach, said that revenue was down by 20 to 30 percent compared to last week, but some of that could be due to the video lottery system shutting down. The system is connected to CenturyLink, which has been down on much of Hayden Island in the past few days, she said.
In Vancouver, downtown businesses appear to be seeing about the same number of customers this week compared with last week, said Michael Walker, executive director of Vancouver’s Downtown Association. Some business owners have told him that revenue is slightly down.
“There was this perception that the closure would cause a lot of havoc to businesses in downtown,” he said. “I’ve been pretty surprised.”
Fish, who also co-owns Main Event in Vancouver, said business is slightly down this week, but not as much as at his Jantzen Beach restaurant. He said the slowed business in Vancouver might be caused by the rain, but it’s hard to tell.
Walker said that if the project had occurred before the pandemic, it might have caused more harm to businesses because more people would be commuting. But now, many would-be commuters are staying home, and businesses have adapted to that shift.
Mark Matthias, owner of Beaches, said people who would normally drive to Portland to dine are choosing downtown Vancouver restaurants, which replaces the people who would drive from Oregon to dine here.
“It’s a wash,” he said.
Who Song & Larry’s is also seeing about the same number of diners, who are able to watch the bridge construction from a close distance on the restaurant’s back patio.
“Guests enjoy watching the bridge construction,” General Manager Lexi Bonds said.