Fridays After Five brings business back to Charlottesville

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 7:12 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The 2021 Fridays After Five season is now over. Each Friday it brought thousands of people to the Downtown Mall for the free music series, something business owners there say has been a blessing.

“When we bring those thousands of people down to the pavilion, once they leave, the night is young and they head right down the mall and fill the cafes and restaurants so everybody gets a benefit,” said Kirby Hutto, the organizing manager of Fridays After Five.

Restaurants like The Nook say it has been a big boost in business, it is seeing double or triple the amount of customers they normally have on Friday nights.

“It’s kind of the sort of thing that this town needed. That first Friday’s After Five...Wow. There had to have been thousands of people on the Downtown Mall,” said Gino Giasante, the general manager of The Nook on the Downtown Mall. “It almost overcompensated because there were like three times as many people as I was used to having down here on the Downtown Mall.”

It’s something Giansante says was much needed, especially for the restaurant industry still grappling with the challenges of COVID-19.

“This was a huge, needed boost, especially for businesses where those are their primary hours. I’m sure they went from having two tables on any given night, any given time, to like a 30 minute waitlist,” he said.

Hutto said not only has it brought in the bucks, is also brought back a sense of community.

“Being able to bring it back, even though it wasn’t a full season, is just a good feeling,” he said.

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