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Giving Deals To Draw Customers During LRT Construction

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A number of local businesses are getting creative to overcome light rail construction on the Central Corridor line.

The LRT project is blocking easy access to the stores, a problem that could last because it won’t be completed until 2014.

Residents in the area said the project isn’t nice to look at and they never know which streets closed or open.

But if you think navigating the construction around Washington and University Avenue is a pain, try owning one of the establishments.

One of the affected businesses, Bonnie’s Cafe on University Avenue, has been in the area for 33 years.

The owners have teamed up with others in their same situation by offering deals. They want to do anything they can to make sure their businesses stay open to overcome what’s going on outside.

“Twelve months ago I was expecting about a 50-percent drop in business,” said Chris Ferguson, owner of the Dairy Queen on University Avenue.

He said cutting the price of a hot dog in half is the most popular change at DQ.

“All throughout construction it’ll be only a dollar for a hot dog,” said Ferguson.

It’s just the beginning he said. They also offer a daily half-price happy hour and 10-percent off coupons.

“The marketing has worked better than we expected and the drop is less than we feared,” said Ferguson.

He estimates the loss at less than 10 percent.

Further down the line on University Ave. is Caffe Biaggio. They will throw in a free appetizer if you buy two entrees.

They need the new deal to make up for a 40-percent drop in lunch business.

“If they’ve been going someplace else to avoid the traffic, this is an incentive for them to … support their local business,” said Shari Breed, the owner of Caffe Biaggio.

“I can’t say it enough, the marketing does work. People have to take advantage of it, and hopefully customers continue to take advantage of it,” said Ferguson.

For more savings, be on the lookout for Central Corridor coupon booklets.There are deals for dozens of businesses inside. You can find them at shops at restaurants in that area, or at St. Paul and Minneapolis Chamber offices. You can also pick up a Central Corridor Card for discounts.

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