Small businesses bullish on film festival crowds


By Camille Le Gall

With its flowered outdoor terrace and private screening room, The Dekk restaurant on Reade St. has been booked every night for the last week thanks to the Tribeca Film Festival. Last weekend more than 700 people, including actors Steve Buscemi and Jennifer Finnigan, showed up at the restaurant for three private post-screening parties, all held as part of the 13-day festival.

“The festival has a tremendous impact on us. Last week, we had to turn people away,” said Dondrie Burnham, Dekk’s assistant manager.

Six days after the opening of the Tribeca Film Festival, The Dekk and other hip Tribeca restaurants and bars are more than satisfied: the movie festival is drawing thousands of New Yorkers and out-of-towners to a neighborhood where business can sometimes be slow. “We opened last September but not a lot of people came,” said Burnham.

At The Odeon, one of Tribeca’s most famous brasseries located on West Broadway, Steven Abramowitz, the general manager, said the festival period brings about 25 percent more business. “And it’s got busier every single year,” he said. Last weekend was Passover, which is usually slow for restaurants, was also busier than expected, thanks to the festival, he said.

Kristin Hammer, the assistant manager of Roc restaurant, an upscale Italian venue at the corner of Duane and Greenwich Sts. agreed. The Tribeca Film Festival is their highest grossing time of the year. “We make at least 50 percent more than usual,” said Hammer.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel, a moderate hotel on West Broadway with 120 rooms, is full at 97 percent of its capacity this week, according to Larry Bader, the general manager. “There is a lot of business when the festival is around; we have actors and directors staying in. But anyway, since the beginning of 2005, we’ve been very busy,” said Bader.

In many Tribeca stores, the cash registers are ringing more than usual. At Church Fruits, a deli on Chambers St., Chong Rhee, the manager, is happy because the festival’s free shuttle buses stop in front of his door. “People wait in line for the buses; it’s definitely better for us.”

Cornerstone Grill, on Greenwich St., where construction and office workers come to pick up their orders of fried chicken, burgers and French fries, is constantly full. “It’s definitely better [when there is the Festival], especially on Family Day,” said Jeff Palladino, the owner, referring to the street fair that this year will be on Saturday.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg congratulated festival founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff for bringing business back to Tribeca after 9/11. At a press conference held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on April 21, Bloomberg said that the festival, in its fourth year, has generated $125 million in economic activity in Lower Manhattan, and has attracted more than one million visitors since it began in 2002.

“If you want to make a movie, this is the place to do it,” Bloomberg added. “Local people win from movie-making in the city.”

De Niro, who also co-owns several neighborhood restaurants including Nobu, said he hoped the festival will continue to grow over the years, simply calling it a “terrific” event.

This year, more than 250 films from 45 different countries are being screened in different venues around Tribeca between April 19 and May 1 and 400,000 people are expected.

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