NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WKBW) — “This is really nice material,” remarked Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul.
Lt. Governor Hochul received a handmade face mask as she visited Guido’s Upholstering & Decorating Center on Pine Avenue in Niagara Falls.
Hochul appeared Thursday as business owners are excited to begin phase three and reopen their businesses to customers.
“Business life on Pine Avenue is back. Business life in the city of Niagara Falls is back — it’s back in large measure,” declared Mayor Robert Restanio.
The Lt. Governor was joined along Pine Avenue by the Niagara Falls Mayor.
Hochul noted the state has heavily invested in Niagara Falls, which has struggled with decline for years. But now there is hope phase three could bring some new optimism to the city.
“I feel like I’m cutting a ribbon on a new project, which is the revitalization of downtown Niagara Falls after we've been in this self-induced coma because we were in the throws of a public health crisis,” Hochul said.
Normally Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls would begin to be filled with tourists this time of year, but it remains quiet, so businesses are hoping phase three brings them back.
“We would have a 45-minute wait to get in,” said Geoffrey Reeds, vice president of sales & marketing, American Niagara Hospitality.
American Niagara Hospitality operates the Rainforest Cafe and Old Falls Street businesses, including a hotel. Reeds said the hospitality and hotel industry has been hit especially hard.
“In Niagara Falls, once the attractions get going in phase four, I think that's where we will see the biggest impact,” Reeds remarked. But Rainforest Cafe is ready for phase three, which allows for the return of indoor dining at reduced capacity.
“There's still a lot of uncertainty on what the demand will be. We’ve opened our patio — as you can see behind us, which has been well received,” Reeds noted. “We’re ready to go — we’re all doing it for the first time.”
Hochul says the region is on track to start phase three by Tuesday.
“On verge of phase three,” Hochul stated.
Hochul also responded to our question about some confusion from business owners on specific dates that would be able to restart their businesses.
“I would say there’s a lot more clarity for the business community,” replied Hochul.
Hochul explained they must take precautions in monitoring each phase of a reopen.
“When you open up one element, you have to have a little time to see whether or not that results in a spike,” Hochul explained.