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Downtown Mall Businesses Brace for Unite the Right Rally

Posted: Updated: Aug 07, 2017 09:44 AM
Charlottesville's Downtown Mall Charlottesville's Downtown Mall
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Businesses on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall are bracing for the Unite the Right rally set to take place Saturday, August 12. The event is expected to crowd Emancipation Park with hundreds of alt-right supporters.

Several businesses on the mall say they had nearly no customers during the Ku Klux Klan rally July 8, so ahead of the Unite the Right rally restaurants are asking for support from customers to avoid that happening again.

Brenda Hawkins, otherwise known as the granny of Chap's Ice Cream, says the restaurant on the Downtown Mall took a hit from the KKK rally.

“We had a couple of kids that worked here whose parents wouldn't let them work because of it. I told them they had nothing to worry about because we have police,” Hawkins explained.

Businesses on the Downtown Mall want to make sure people come out and enjoy Charlottesville on August 12 while the Unite the Right rally takes over Emancipation Park a block off the mall.

Erica Vorhauer with Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar says many are nervous for what the upcoming weekend may bring, after business was slow when the KKK came to town.

"It was slow. It was really slow and I'm pretty sure it'll be the same thing for Saturday. We just want people to feel like we love Charlottesville. We want everyone to come out and feel like this is still our town,” Vorhauer said.

Splendora Gelato and Rapture have also asked for the community's support, however they discourage customers from coming out if they feel unsafe.

“If you're concerned about coming, obviously don't come,” Vorhauer said.

Vorhauer says the restaurants on the Downtown Mall want to see Charlottesville as a unified community.

"All of us - there's not a restaurant downtown that doesn't want you to come downtown,” she said.

A few restaurants including Kilwins and Brazos Tacos said they will close during the rally for safety reasons, but they are encouraging the community to support local businesses.