Local businesses struggle to keep doors open during Atlanta Streetcar construction

According to Luckie Take Out owner Meseret Aymut, business losses due to the Atlanta Streetcar construction are putting the local restaurant out of business.

Before construction started on Luckie Street, people from local businesses, the Quailty Inn Hotel and Georgia State were able to walk to Luckie Take Out. However, the installation of the Atlanta Streetcar rails in front of the entrance to the restaurant has led to lane, sidewalk and road closures.

“Ever since construction started, the mess was too big and people don’t even bother to walk to us,” Aymut said.

Since access to the restaurant has been blocked by construction, Luckie Take Out cannot pay its mortgage. Aymut said that she has to walk away from her business and cannot afford to keep doors open until the streetcar is complete.

“The construction has killed us,” she said.

Ronald Montrel, owner of The Food Shoppe, has also experienced a loss of business due to the construction that hinders access to the restaurant’s storefront.

“We completely lost foot traffic and a lot of car traffic because of the construction,” Montrel said.

The Food Shoppe has lost five parking spaces to the Atlanta Streetcar because a rail is being installed in front of the store.

However, Montrel believes that the streetcar will ultimately benefit business.

“It is worth it in the end to stick it out,” he said.

On the opposite end of the streetcar route, Mangos Caribbean Restaurant on Auburn Avenue has made business sacrifices as well.

Matthew Nelson, owner of Mangos, said that he had to take out a $25,000 loan in order to make up for the loss of business at an Atlanta Streetcar update meeting.

“The streetcar has killed the business that I have,” he said.

According to Nelson, businesses on Auburn Avenue lost 20 parking spaces this past month because an Atlanta Streetcar station is being built where a public parking lot once was.

Jay Cruzado, a worker at Mangos, said that a few customers got their cars towed because the construction caused confusion for them.

Although the construction has created obstacles for the local business, Cruzado believes that once the Atlanta Streetcar is running, business will improve.

“I do believe that once the streetcar is complete, business will go up through the roof and we will be busy from open to close,” Cruzado said.

Business owners were told at the most recent construction update meeting that every streetcar holds the amount of people equivalent to 177 automobiles and that the benefits from tourism and public transportation will outweigh the immediate negative effects the local business are suffering.

The Atlanta Streetcar project has provided signs stating that businesses are open during construction to attract customers for the surrounding businesses that are affected by the construction zones.

Sandra Allen Walker, the Atlanta Streetcar community relations manager, acknowledged the construction on the project’s website. She said that there will be disruptions and inconveniences due to the installation of the tracks.