MLB playoff series boosts tourism for local restaurants post-pandemic

CLEVELAND — Game days in Cleveland mean there’s more foot traffic in town, which restaurateurs say is a good sign that tourism has returned.

“It got busier and busier throughout the summer and into the fall,” said Indie East 4th owner Gabriel Zeller.

Just opening the doors to Indie East 4th in January, the new restaurant is one of many, welcoming customers inside as they walk through the busy aisle.

“The general vibe downtown is much more excited and happier,” Zeller said.

Zeller says this reassures him, given that his company is very new.

“Opening a restaurant anytime is a bit nerve-wracking, but doing it during the end of the pandemic or well into the pandemic was nerve-wracking,” Zeller said.

But with big crowds coming for events like the American League Division Series, Zeller and general manager Kenny Didier are once again hopeful.

“It’s just another opportunity to show that Cleveland is here. We are very relevant. We have a tremendous fan base of sports teams,” said Didier, who is the Metropolitan’s general manager at 9.

“It’s exciting when you have a weekend like this when people are on the go,” said John Barker, president and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association.

Barker says Destination Cleveland’s report showing more than 16 million visits to Cuyahoga County in 2021 is encouraging, but he says more is needed.

“For restaurants, we really need people to come back and have lunch. The dinners are good. You see how busy the restaurants are, the good ones are really busy at dinner time downtown. But there really isn’t much movement for lunch downtown,” Barker explained.

While Barker doesn’t think it’s a tourism problem, he says it shows there’s still a long way to go.

“We’re really looking at ways, whether it’s talking with Destination Cleveland or other leadership groups there, how can we make the city a little busier earlier in the day,” Barker said. . “I know we are not going to go back to pre-pandemic. I know those days are probably over, but it’s nice to see a bustling downtown.

Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, as well as top news alerts, the latest weather forecasts, traffic updates and more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.

You can also watch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We are also on Amazon-Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.

Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement