Downtown Provo restaurants saw some pretty big business increases over the last few months, with 800,000 people filtering through the area to tour the new LDS Provo City Center Temple.
“Restaurants are saying it was awesome,” said Provo deputy mayor Dixon Holmes. “Anecdotally, 25 to 30 percent increases.”
A lot of people spent time planning and executing the event, “and by all accounts it was very successful, to have 800,000 people come through the community,” he said.
With the underground parking at the temple as well as parking available at Nu Skin and the county Health and Justice Building, there were plenty of spots open for downtown visitors so that the area didn’t seem too crowded to stop and eat or shop, he said.
“We think it was a great experience for everybody that came and participated,” Holmes said.
But not all businesses benefited from the extra visitors. People going to the open house may have gone out to eat before or after their tours, but likely didn’t walk around to shop, Holmes said.
“Those that sell products probably got some exposure but may not have realized or seen a ton of business,” Holmes said.
That was the experience of Pioneer Book at 450 W. Center St. General Manager Scott Glenn said the store got a little extra business from the open house, but not much.
“Our impression was that the city managed traffic flow really well and directed most people right to the underground parking, and then people didn’t linger downtown,” he said. “They got back in their cars and left.
“It’s disappointing, frankly,” Glenn said.
He’s waiting to see if people going to the temple will spend more time downtown once the temple opens.
Holmes said there already are 1,000 weddings scheduled at the new temple between now and the end of the year, which bodes well for restaurants and gathering spaces.
As to how the new temple will affect downtown businesses, “a lot of it is just unknown, we haven’t done this before,” he said. “We hope the other businesses will see increases.”