The cover story in this week's New Times is a romp about spending 12 hours at the brand spankin' new Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood. Underneath the outright silliness, there's a salient issue: will the $147 million project be a game-changer for the last stretch of old-school (and struggling) beachfront in South Florida? Is this the cure for the area's economic woes? Will the other businesses around the strip feel the impact?
City officials and Margaritaville's backers certainly billed the project as such. As we reported this week in the feature, the city estimated that the project would employ some 500 construction workers, then provide approximately 350 jobs at the resort once everything was up and running.
The city also predicted Margaritaville
But when we called around to businesses on Hollywood Beach this week, most weren't ready to pass judgment on whether they've seen a boost in business thanks to their new neighbor. Many just didn't want to talk (perhaps fearful of ending up on some list at Parrothead HQ). The majority, however, said that they couldn't really tell at this point. The resort has only been open for less than a month.
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Plus, more importantly, it's basically been an endless monsoon on the beach for that whole time.
That was the story we heard from Jack, the manager at Rocco's Pizza, the much-loved restaurant on the Broadwalk directly north of the new resort. "Not yet, we don't see anything," Jack said when asked if the resort had helped boost his business. "It was raining almost all month."
Around the corner at Les Artistes Cafe & Sandwicherie, the manager Kyle explained that the construction zone for the resort was only six feet from his establishment. It didn't make for an easy opening when the restaurant opened in April.
"We started with completely no business," he says. "We had a deal with trying to get construction workers to eat, but it was very hard on business. So now, anything better than that is a godsend."