Road closures have ‘minimal’ impact on South Lake Tahoe businesses
With U.S. 50 closed in both directions this past weekend and delays at Interstate 80, South Shore locals took to Facebook with cheers of “locals only weekend!”
While many foresaw line-less lifts and traffic-free roads, visitors still found their way up the mountain to partake in the winter fun — though it took them a little longer to get here.
“Once the CA-88/89 access was open, visitors were still able to arrive,” said Carol Chaplin, president and CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
“Heavenly was really busy this weekend and I spoke to folks who were here for the week, which is the case with many of our destination visitors, and I spoke to another couple who arrived on Saturday instead of Friday because of the road closures, but booked Sunday to enjoy the new snow on Monday.”
According to Chaplin, her understanding was that businesses experienced “some negative impact” from the closures, but ultimately it was “minimal.”
Scott Craig, general manager at Riva Grill, agreed.
“It’s hard to tell if it’s because of the roads or the flooding. It’s been a little slower than we expected over the last 10 days, but nothing devastating,” said Craig. “We’re optimistic about the holiday weekend.”
According to Fire + Ice manager Adam Alicea, the main impact on the restaurant has been receiving deliveries.
“Really the only issue is getting some of our deliveries from Sacramento — either having them rerouted or taking a day or two extra to get here. Getting up here is not easy in those big trucks,” said Alicea.
Similarly, a few South Lake Tahoe gas stations experienced temporary delays in shipments.
Though South Shore ski resorts were reportedly busy this past weekend, outdoor recreation was not immune to the road closures. Due to U.S. 50’s closure near Cave Rock, Zephyr Cove Resort suspended its snowmobiling tours, which take place around Spooner Summit.
While this latest rain-snow storm series appears to have had a small impact on the Tahoe Basin’s tourist-driven economy, several small businesses had bigger issues than a slight lull in foot traffic.
Mountain Meadow Chiropractic — located in the Tahoe Keys, one of the areas hit hard by flooding last week — took on a few inches of water and was forced to shut down for two days.
“We need to redo all the flooring, baseboards and carpets,” said Dr. Erin E. MacCarry. “The situation is not great, but we can’t control Mother Nature. It could have been a lot worse.”
The thrift store Connie’s Clothesline has also been dealing with continued flooding since the roof collapsed at the liquor store next door at the end of January.
But overall the mood is optimistic for the upcoming President’s Day weekend, which is expected to bring another surge in tourism to the region.
“Reservations for this weekend continue to be solid going into the holiday period and we know Caltrans is working hard on (U.S.) 50 slides on our behalf,” noted Chaplin.