Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Business Booms with Metrolink

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Business Booms with Metrolink

Article excerpt

ASK PAUL HELD what he thinks of MetroLink and he'll tell you - without hesitation - "it's fantastic."

That opinion isn't unique, if you look at the new light-rail system's ridership numbers. But for Held - who's with Casa Gallardo at Union Station - MetroLink's arrival has been nothing but good news.

"Starting at 11 every day, about 200 people rise from a hole in the ground every 15 minutes," Held said. "And a lot of them are coming here.

"MetroLink has meant a 20 percent increase in our business. We were blown away!"

Craig Stupp, who works with Held, agreed. "It's making a real difference. We had a 20-minute wait at noon today."

I traveled up and down the MetroLink line last week, talking with business owners, employees and customers. I found that Held and Stupp aren't alone in singing the praises of MetroLink. Up and down the line, merchants say the system has helped their businesses.

Ask Ly Van Chan of Chinese Express, a small restaurant in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood. He said he had seen an increase in business since the system opened.

"More people are coming here between lunch and dinner than came before," he said. "I know MetroLink is bringing them here because we have had regular customers who live or work in this area, but we're seeing a lot of people now who we haven't seen before."

Or ask Karen Devine. She's the bar manager at Redel's, a restaurant at 310 DeBaliviere Boulevard. "MetroLink's been helpful to our business," she said. "We have a lot of people coming here for lunch from downtown like we've not seen before."

The restaurant also is getting increased business from people who go to the ballgame. "A lot of people park their cars at the parking lot near here and stop by when they return after the game," she said.

Devine said the restaurant received a visit recently from the manager of a downtown hotel who jumped on a train and headed out. The manager plans to promote the restaurant and MetroLink to hotel guests.

That's exactly what Bi-State is looking for. The agency, which oversees the light-rail system, is hoping to get businesses to use MetroLink in their promotions.

"We've seen some of that already," said Linda Hancock of Bi-State. …

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