Businesses slowly returning to the black near the zoo

Families came in a steady stream past the National Zoo\'s front gate on Connecticut Avenue on Saturday, Oct. 19. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

WASHINGTON – The zoo is back open, and that’s good news for nearby businesses’ bottom lines.

Amy See, visiting with her family from Arkansas, was happy the zoo is open again, especially with a wide age range to entertain.

“We thought going to go see the animals would be a great idea,” See says.

Hundreds of families made their way to the Smithsonian National Zoo Saturday, bringing welcome foot traffic past stores like Starbucks, Fro Zen Yo and Lillies restaurant – all of whom felt the pinch during the shutdown.

“We’ve lost a lot of business in the last two weeks,” says Lillies manager Jasmine Rowhani, who added that employees lost hundreds in tips.

The restaurant depends on neighborhood business in the evening, which was consistent. But families dropping in for lunch or a drink on their way to or from the zoo made for a good chunk of business that disappeared over the shutdown, she says.

“I would say we saw at least 30 to 40 percent less business than what we had before,” Rowhani says.

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