Construction Imperils South Side Small Business
This week, Mayor Ravenstahl was at the White House to watch President Obama sign a bill to make more small business loans available.
Next week, the mayor is off to China to promote Pittsburgh as a good place to do business, but one local businessman says this just isn’t true.
City leaders and PennDOT, he says, don’t care about the havoc road construction causes to business.
Walk into the Birmingham Bridge Tavern on Sarah Street, just off Carson on the Southside and you see a lot of empty seats at lunch time.
“There’s usually lots of people in here. So you’ve seen a dramatic drop-off,” says Mike Curtis of Bethel Park, a frequent patron.
Like some other businesses, the tavern is in the middle of the Carson Street construction war zone.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell.
The Birmingham Bridge Tavern is at the end of 29th Street, but all its patrons are right across Carson Street and the road is blocked, which means they can’t get to the tavern for lunch.
Owner John Hauck gets emotional describing how the construction has hurt his business.
“The business climate here in Pittsburgh is not very accommodating to a small businessman and I’ve tried my hardest,” Hauck told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano. “I’ve given it 110 percent. It’s just taken its toll on me.”
Hauck says the mayor, city officials and PennDOT do not seem to care about how they impact small businesses.
“I’m frustrated by the city and the state.”
Access to his restaurant-tavern was blocked last July, but it took until September for detour signs to be posted – sometimes in the wrong place.
Now he is going under and about to sell his business even as PennDOT promises to finish its work by the end of October.
“I love this city, but I can’t do business in the city any longer,” he said.
Hauck has this message for the mayor and City Council.
“Quit talking the talk, and let’s walk the walk. Let’s lead from the top and force people to be accountable,” he said.
Hauck says he will do his best to keep his tavern open in October, another month during which Carson Street construction will cost him business.
As for the future, he says after surviving the drink tax and the smoking ban, it’s the road work that did not allow access to his business that finally did him in.