Downtown gears up for lawmakers to return to Tallahassee

By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 5, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- It'll be all business in Tallahassee next week as legislators return to the Capital City for the annual legislative session.

That means busier sidewalks, roadways and storefronts downtown.

"Session is our only time of a guaranteed steady income. So basically it's the most important time of year for us. Without it we wouldn't be able to survive the rest of the year," said Denise Sage, General Manager at Jasmine Cafe.

Sage said she's looking forward to the early January session, as the last few months have been slow due to the ban on Greek life at Florida State University.

"We've been really slow in the evenings. We've hosted a lot of chapter events for fraternities and sororities so without that our evenings have been pretty dead," she said.

That should change next week, as the lunch crowds grows from state lawmakers. Enough so, that Sage said staff will nearly double to accommodate the extra traffic.

Her situation is not unique.

According to the Office of Economic Vitality, visitors to Leon County during the 2016 Legislative Session brought in $256.6 million in economic impact.

That impact is also felt at places like Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille.

"We go on a waited lunch, we probably double our lunch business," said Adam Goodson, General Manager at Harry's.

Goodson said the impacts can be felt far past just the tables at the restaurant.

"It really helps the downtown, it really helps Tallahassee out. Anytime you can fill up the hotels, fill up the restaurants, it just really helps the local community," he said.

Hotel rooms have already begun to fill up, including at Hotel Duval, where they're book through the next few weeks.

But, as the rush begins to drive up to Tallahassee, Goodson offers a reminder.

"Session only goes through the week, so we're open and ready on the weekends. And they're not here, so come see us," he said.

Session will convene on January 9.

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