WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) – The past 18 months have been incredibly difficult for most businesses across the country. And in the city of West Hollywood, which thrives on tourism and hospitality, the impact has been severe.
“It has been a difficult time for our businesses,” said Mayor Lindsay Horvath. “We know there are some who will not come back, but we also know that so many people have fought.”
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Horvath said it had been difficult to see his town shut down, but that it was even more difficult to see WeHo staples like Rage Nightclub shutting down for good.
“We know that Flaming Saddles, which had a location here in West Hollywood, didn’t make it,” she said. “And we know Gold Coast is another iconic bar that people have known and loved for many years, right now they haven’t survived.”
Genevieve Morrill, president of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said that although the city is only about 2 miles long, it generates almost $ 2 billion in tourism per year on average.
“We took big hits like everyone else,” she said. “But we came back very strong.”
But that comeback has come, in part, because of the city’s ability to get creative.
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“We really have to keep working to try to find different ways to allow flexibility with business,” Morrill said. “So change of zoning and parking requirements, possibility of having different uses. For example, a concert, a club house could open a gallery or have a chef cook one evening. So having some flexibility in venues besides a concert hall or bar will help businesses thrive. “
Lauren Fontein is one of the owners of The Artist Tree, a West Hollywood cannabis store that opened just months before it closed.
“It was very stressful to be an employer, because you worry about everyone in the store and connect with customers,” she said. “So we were able to adapt and we really encouraged distancing in our store and [we were] very strict on how many people we let in at any one time and had the markers on the ground and drastically reduced the capacity of how many people we could serve.
From staying safe and following protocols, being creative and thinking outside the box, the city of West Hollywood has struggled like so many, but is finally starting to see the light at the end of the day. tunnel.
“The city of West Hollywood really came together during the COVID-19 crisis,” Horvath said. “It has certainly been a challenge for us, as it has been for so many regions, but it is also a time when our strength and resilience as a community has also been revealed.”
“Well, the pride lives on here all year round,” Morrill said. “I think the future of West Hollywood is exciting. If we can bring the hospitality and tourism industry back in full force as it should be, we will be very successful with our business community and our residents here.
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Morrill said that over the past month, hotel occupancy rates have risen from around 30% to over 70%. And although occupancy rates are normally between 80% and 90%, she said it was a good sign that the city is returning to normal operations.