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Downtown businesses encouraged by Independence Day sales boom

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BATON ROUGE - This Independence Day, businesses saw potentially the biggest sales boost since the start of the pandemic. 

As hundreds of people gathered downtown to watch the red, white and blue fireworks, bars and restaurants reaped the benefits of the Fourth of July show.

"I mean I was running around constantly ordering food and making drinks. We had tourists come in for the Fourth of July flow from the Levi. It was definitely a big change," said Savannah McDaniel, a barista at The Vintage.

On the corner of Third Street is Schlitz and Giggles, which saw a dramatic spike in business Sunday night.

"We were twice as busy as Saturday night. For us, we were absolutely slammed people would wait about 30 minutes for a table then 40 to get their food," Manager Samantha Hughey said.

For the pizza spot, the pandemic didn't cut their business. Instead it helped them grow.

"We didn't really have a financial fall on us, instead we had the best year in quite a long time," Hughey said. "I hope it stays like this, and I hope every year it increases, just keeps on increasing and same for our staff. We are fully staffed. Last year that wasn't the case."

Many other businesses saw that spike, including Happy's, Downtown Grocery, Squeaky Pete's, Bengal Taproom, and The Vintage.

"You would look off the balcony and thousands of people were everywhere. It was definitely a change of sight," Savannah McDaniel said.

The Vintage was not as lucky as Schlitz. They at one point feared closure, but yesterday's turnout helped boost morale.

"Watching the Fourth of July definitely made us feel like we are not in trouble. It's starting to come back to normal, which is a relief," McDaniel added.

After a hectic year, the sudden rush of business came as a breath of fresh air.

"It's really encouraging to see people out and people having their families out. Getting to see people out again that are more than just our regulars," said Caitlin Mathes, a bartender at The Vintage.

They believe Sunday gave them a glimpse of what's ahead, and it looks pretty bright.

"I feel like people saw what it could be like. People are going out. People are getting the vaccine, which will help a lot more for people to start coming. It was definitely an eye-opener," McDaniel said.

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