Written by By Mallika Chopra, CNN
“Vitamin” and “viva!” are two phrases that pop up frequently in advertisements on the advertising stage in Times Square, and in other parts of the borough.
So maybe it’s not a surprise to see that the shops on the corner of 47th and 7th Avenue in Midtown — which is known for being one of the most photographed sights in the world — have been bringing in more tourists.
But is that leading to a loss of business for local New Yorkers?
Time Magazine recently reported that since 1992, “filters have penetrated the formerly obscured streets in North Broadway as tourists flood down” and “eyebrows are being raised at the phenomenal increases in foot traffic.”
“The dynamic on Broadway is that tourists only spend so much money, we think we really need people working on the street,” says Alexandre Altez, vice president of operations for Jumeirah and a native New Yorker who has worked in the hotel industry for more than 20 years.
There are some common trends in the area; food has tended to have a stronger hold, restaurants are more popular than gyms and brands are trying out a local flavor for the summer.
Giorgio De Martino says his Italian restaurant is on track to have its best summer ever. Credit: Courtesy of Giorgio De Martino
Giorgio De Martino , a longtime staple, says his Italian restaurant is on track to have its best summer ever, partially due to a new redesign of the space. After opening 40 years ago, Altez says De Martino is making an impact in the experience of food outside the traditional hotel experience.
“It’s exciting for New Yorkers to see New York come alive, people coming downtown and finding something new and unique,” he says.
That could be the story of any number of restaurants and shops. Small businesses in Times Square and across the city are battling the triple threat of unpredictable staffing and business, longer hours, and rising rents, according to the New York Times article.
As tourists continue to flock to the area, businesses have begun to reevaluate their processes. Unlike traditional hotel stays, which are contracted months in advance, many tourists travel overnight, leading to a flurry of activity in the prime space.
Catering to a smaller number of guests with better weather, and looking for space that will work during the heavy tourist season, is something that Gianfranco Rubino, owner of Soho’s O Cucina , believes will be paramount for businesses in the immediate future.
Watch a behind-the-scenes video of Zumanity at the new Chelsea Piers here:
To smooth the tension and try to get businesses to stay afloat and benefit locals, the Times Square Alliance is thinking outside the box. It’s looking to start a mobile app called Time Square Illumination , which will enable restaurants and stores to see and communicate with each other. The hopes are that this will allow them to prepare better, and potentially avoid negative interactions with locals.