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Las Vegas Grand Prix windfall? Not for these small businesses

Despite some of the biggest businesses touting a successful Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend, many owners of small businesses near the Strip have mixed feelings.

Management at Jjanga Sushi and Oyster Bar, located just outside the racetrack on Flamingo Road near Koval Lane, said they were significantly impacted by the road closures and construction-related traffic in the months leading up to the race. They still prepared for big crowds last weekend by increasing staffing, creating new menus and shifting operations to align with the event times.

“But the reality of the weekend did not match our expectations,” manager Mike Shoro said. “We had issues with people parking in our shared plaza lot and then walking to F1, choosing not to frequent our business or one of our neighbors. It is what it is.”

The F1 race was touted as an economic boom to the city during a typically slow weekend before Thanksgiving. Race and Clark County leaders said the weekend would generate about $1.2 billion in economic impact for the area, with roughly 315,000 fans in attendance. But some small-business owners say their books didn’t show a boost. Others said the road closures hurt business.

Amanda Reber, a shift supervisor for the Strip Liquor store, called the weekend a “bust,” even though the store sits in the Gold Key Shops just north of Wynn Las Vegas and within walking distance of the racetrack.

The reason for the disappointment was that much of the business for Strip Liquor comes from tourists walking in, and the only customers the store drew were its regulars.

“We didn’t see any of the revenue that was brought for Formula One,” Reber said. “They talked a big game, but we didn’t see any of it.”

At Yama Sushi in the same plaza, general manager Jillian Kwon said daily sales were down 70 to 80 percent when compared to other weekends in November. She suspected road closures and a lack of middle-class clientele were to blame.

Kwon said she thinks concentrating the F1 venues to a select number of hotels and other locations limits the economic impact of the Las Vegas Grand Prix and isn’t fair to smaller businesses around the Strip.

“There was big money, but only a few hotels got to benefit,” Kwon said. “The few hotels that host are the venue (for the Las Vegas Grand Prix), not Las Vegas.”

Amanda Signorelli, co-owner of Golden Steer Steakhouse, said the old Vegas icon on Sahara Avenue did better than the same weekend last year, but it wasn’t a “gangbusters” weekend. The restaurant handled about 350 to 400 covers per night.

“We had hoped we’d see buyouts or longer events, but we were mostly surprised at how lukewarm it was for our business,” Signorelli said.

Like some other business leaders, Signorelli lsaid this was a learning year. The race’s novelty cast wide expectations, but now business managers can better anticipate how they should handle future events.

For the Golden Steer, Signorelli said she thought the two-mile distance between the steakhouse and the race circuit contributed to this year’s results. In the future, she said the marketing team will try to sell earlier dinners to private parties and creative options like chef’s tables.

“It was a lot of learning for us,” she said. “It was a lot of things that came together in the nick of time. Next year we want to be a guide, rather than a taker of reservations or a taker of private parties.”

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on X. Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on X.

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