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HesperiaStar.com
  • HOLIDAY WEEKEND

    Locals eye business boost from travelers

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  • BARSTOW — Local business owners are hopeful a busy summer trend will continue through Labor Day weekend.
    Ben Rosenberg, whose family owns Barstow Station, expects Labor Day weekend to be a busy one for the High Desert.
    “It would be my hope that every business in Barstow is seeing the same busy summer that Barstow Station has seen and it carries through the holiday weekend,” Rosenberg said. “Our business is designed to handle the carloads of travelers and we’ve seen a great deal of travelers all summer long.”
    Rosenberg said last year’s addition of the state’s first public-accessible Dunkin’ Donuts at Barstow Station has brought in flocks of tourists looking for a sweet fix.
    Located right off Interstate 15 at East Main Street, Barstow Station is generally a popular stop for holiday-weekend travelers. Last year, USA Today named Barstow Station the busiest rest stop for Thanksgiving travel. The newspaper compiled data from the mobile application Foursquare using the volume of 2012 check-ins from Nov. 20 through 25 at Barstow Station.
    While Los Domingo’s doesn’t experience as much traffic as Barstow Station, the Mexican restaurant is averaging 60 new monthly customers, according to owner Max Atalla. While Atalla isn’t expecting to see an influx of customers Saturday or Sunday, he said his business usually benefits from homeward bound traffic over the holiday weekend.
    “Labor Day weekend is good for everyone’s business, but we generally bank on it on Labor Day or the day after as people aren’t in a rush to get to their destination,” Atalla said. “We do see a bit of growth but this weekend generally benefits tow truck companies, gas stations and drive-thru restaurants like Del Taco. It helps sit-down restaurants also, but we also benefit from these (social media) apps as people continue to convert to smart technology.”
    With three Del Taco locations in the area, two of the locations near I-15 benefit from travelers, while one location in the heart of the city sees “slower times” during holiday weekends, Del Taco staff said.
    C.J. Guardado manages the Del Taco restaurants located on Mountain View Street and First Street, and he said the First Street location is usually frequented by local residents, while the other locations are more traveler-friendly. Guardado feels the First Street Del Taco is not as busy because of the local customers who leave Barstow for the weekend.
    But the overall impact of holiday travel is good for business, Guardado feels.
    “When people are heavily traveling I-15, our Lenwood and Barstow locations are full with customers,” Guardado said. “People know about Del Taco, they know the history of Del Taco, so they stop and visit these locations right off the freeway.”
    One local business owner said Labor Day weekend, along with Memorial Day and New Year’s Eve, is one of the busiest weekends of the year. Adam Abdulla owns Barstow Fuel, a 76 gas station located across the street from Barstow Station.
    “Labor Day marks the end of the busy season for commuter-friendly businesses in Barstow,” Abdulla said. “The numbers of travelers on the holiday weekends increases the amount of sales. Labor Day weekend itself sees a great volume of people coming through Barstow and it helps all businesses in town. Barstow kind of relies on I-15 traffic and obviously the increase in travel greatly helps.”
    Further south on I-15, the Lenwood area is also a popular rest-destination for travelers with a vast selection of drive-thru eateries, including Original Tommy’s hamburgers, In-N-Out and others. Tanger Outlets and Barstow Outlet are also near I-15.
    Tanger Outlets sees busloads of tourists daily, but according to general manager Jennifer Rodriguez, the outlets also benefit from holiday travelers.
    “We do see an influx of travelers on holiday weekends, including Labor Day,” Rodriguez said. “Labor Day is historically a big shopping weekend as families are shopping for back-to-school and spending time with each other.”
    In the Victor Valley, businesses also benefit from Labor Day commuters, but they don’t seem to expect as big of a weekend as the Barstow businesses do.
    Sarita Montes, who manages the Arco gas station at 15445 Palmdale Road near I-15, described the level of Labor Day business as “mas o menos,” a Spanish phrase that loosely translates to “not bad, but not too good.” Montes said the gas station relies on an influx of travelers leaving or passing through the Victor Valley the Friday before Labor Day.
    “The Friday before is the busiest day of the holiday weekend for us when people are rushing to get out of here,” Montes said. “We see a lot of people that pump gas, use our restrooms, buy our drinks and snacks, but it calms back to normal by Labor Day.”
    John Pflughoft, franchisee owner of Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers in Victorville, said Labor Day itself is usually slow, as people tend to stay home and barbecue with their families.
    However, Pflughoft said the weekend leading up to Labor Day is one of the busiest times of the year.
    Pflughoft’s business, located on “Restaurant Row” on Amargosa Road near Bear Valley Road, benefits from having a drive-thru option for customers traveling on I-15.
    “The Tuesday after Labor Day is generally a busy day with traffic heading home from Las Vegas also,” Pflughoft said.
    Jose Quintero can be reached at 760-256-4122 or JQuintero@DesertDispatch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @DD_JQuintero.
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