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Manor at Midtown businesses concerned about lack of foot traffic as more bars close

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 5:58 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - With Fire Betty’s and The Fox and the Stag announcing their permanent closures, neighboring businesses at The Manor at Midtown say they feel as though a friend is moving away.

The bars made the announcement on Facebook, writing that the closure was based on the health and safety of staff, patrons, and loved ones. Two other bars in the complex, Fifth & Thomas and Finnegan’s Wake, permanently closed in May; that makes four vacant properties in one Midtown location.

Businesses that remain open say they're concerned about the impact of losing nighttime foot traffic in the area.

“There’s been so many times when people have come in and I’m like, ‘How did you hear about us? And they’re like, ‘Oh we were having a beer next door and I saw you!’” said Kim Bibeau, the owner and founder of Sweat Therapy Fitness. “The foot traffic, with that being what it is, which is hardly anything, of course, I think it’s going to affect all of us.”

The lack of foot traffic is evident in the quiet parking lot off Thomasville Road.

“The other night, it was a Friday evening. There have been times when you couldn’t even find a parking spot out there. And there were less than four cars in the whole parking lot,” said Bibeau.

Businesses say the Manor at Midtown has been a place where residents could receive a wide variety of services.

“It really was like a one-stop, get your coffee, get your workout, grab your pizza, get your hair done, get a taco, and have a beer!” said Bibeau.

“When people talk about the midtown area, and it being a place for young professionals or families, or being walkable, a big part of that are the businesses that are here in Midtown,” said Barby Moro, the CEO of RedEye Coffee.

It’s not only an economic hit but a personal one.

“It’s almost like having a good friend move away,” said Bibeau.

“My initial reaction was I was really sad!” said Moro. “I think that there’s a lot of love between the different businesses. I know that the employees, we all support each other.”

Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow also owns a business located at the Manor at Midtown: Midtown Pies.

“I think we are a resilient community; I think Tallahassee will bounce back,” said Commissioner Matlow. “We don’t know if it will be six months from now, or a year from now, or what’s going to happen. There are investments coming to the Midtown area from Blueprint, and those sorts of things.”

One block north of the Manor, other parts of the Midtown landscape are changing.

At the intersection of Thomasville Road and Sixth Avenue, construction on the Marche at Midtown has continued apace, despite the pandemic.

The development will include retail space on the lower floors and office space on the upper floors. The building used to be owned by TMH; El Cocinero has already committed to making that spot it’s new home, moving from Tennessee Street.

Marche at Midtown is scheduled to be complete at the end of July.

Local businesses in Midtown say, it's up to the community to keep them going, and they appreciate the support.

“Now, more than ever, if you’ve got something that you really love, if you’ve got someplace that you really love, support it!” said Moro.

Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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