Primary season brings after-holiday boost to local businesses

MANCHESTER – Restaurant owners usually dread the month of January – the post-holiday season and cold weather means fewer people are venturing outside and spending money.

But in Manchester during primary season, January means big business for local establishments.

“Notoriously, January is a slower time for restaurants,” said Rebekah Chernoff, the Manchester franchise owner of sandwhich shop Moe’s, on Elm Street. “We haven’t experienced that yet.”

Piccola Italia Ristorante down the block is seeing two to three times more customers than usual, including many reservations from the nearby Radisson Hotel, where the media is camped out for the week, according to employees.

“We’ve been swamped, it’s been non-stop,” said hostess Dina Scalfani.

“It draws quite a few extra people in tow,” said chef Bill Craig. “With all the voting and campaigning, you work up an appetite.”

Some people from the hotel have been stopping in at Vino Aromas to grab a few bottles of wine to take back, according to owner Dan Villafranca, giving the store an after-Christmas boost in sales.

The owners said they haven’t seen any candidates in their stores, but ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer has made the Elm Street rounds, as well as other media celebrities.

“I’ve got to meet a lot of fun, exciting people,” Scalfani said.

For Chernoff, it’s a good opportunity to grow her fairly young business, which opened in May, as well as the town itself.

“I’m excited to see so many people in Manchester, it’s really great for business,” she said.

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