Summer shows are serving up more customers

Published 12:58 pm Monday, July 28, 2008

By Staff
Several eateries benefiting from Turnage patronage
Contributing Editor
For some downtown Washington eateries, a summer of shows at the Turnage Theater means increased business during a faltering economy.
The 2008 East Carolina University/Loessin Summer Theatre series is at the Turnage Theater this summer because ECU is renovating its McGinnis Theatre. The summer series needed a temporary home, so it came to the Turnage Theater.
The eateries are benefiting from a summer of show after show after show, said some owners of those dining establishments.
Franks said she’s glad the ECU students, faculty members and others associated with the theater series came to Washington this summer.
Glenn Weatherington, who owns Down on Mainstreet with his wife, Gennia, said that restaurant’s business has increased from 10 percent to 20 percent this summer. He attributes most, if not all, of that increase to ECU’s presence at the Turnage Theater this summer.
Weatherington hopes the out-of-town people who are coming to see the shows at the Turnage Theater this summer “will return on nights there’s nothing at the Turnage.”
Bob and Anne Martin, owners of The Meeting Place, said their decision to serve dinner on Friday nights and Saturday nights is a direct result of the Turnage Theater offering shows on those nights. The Meeting Place used to serve only lunch Mondays through Saturdays.
In addition to serving dinner on Friday nights and Saturday nights, The Meeting Place serves brunch on Sundays. Some people coming to see a Sunday matinee performance at the Turnage Theater will eat brunch at The Meeting Place before heading to the theater.
Franks, Weatherington and the Martins said they would like to see the Turnage Theater offer something similar to the ECU/Loessin Summer Theatre series each summer. Such an event each summer would be good for the city and its merchants, especially those near the Turnage Theater, they said.
Anne Martin said she’s discovered that parents of ECU students involved with the summer series are “astounded” when the visit their children in Washington.
Franks praised the Turnage Theater and one of its employees in particular for sending its patrons to her shop and others in the city.
Franks said she is convinced that performances at the Turnage Theater, especially the summer series, draw people to Washington who normally wouldn’t come to the city.
Once they know that, they are likely to become repeat customers, Franks said.
Repeat business, as the owners said, is key to keeping their doors open.