Snow puts the pinch on local businesses

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Empty seats at restaurants were just one result of the heavy snow.

The sun came out Friday, melting much of the snow in downtown Raleigh and so did flocks of people - some venturing out for the first time in days.

It was a welcome sight for many businesses forced to shut down during back-to-back snowstorms that slammed the Triangle this week.

"We're quite bored, ready to get back to it and have some business come in," said William Robertson, general manager at Bolt Bistro.

"I haven't had to order that much food because we haven't gone through as much, but I hope we have a busy weekend to make up for that," said Chris Laneville, kitchen manager at Tasty 8's Gourmet Hotdog Company.

Pam Blondin, owner of Deco Raleigh, reopened her store Friday hoping to lure in customers with cabin fever and boost cash flow in time for the weekend.

"We've been closed three days. We closed early one day," said Blondin. "It's tricky to recover. It's a few thousand dollars of unrealized income, and once that day is gone, it's gone."

Economist and N.C. State professor Michael Walden is already crunching the numbers on the statewide impact, tracking which local businesses took the biggest hit.

"Restaurants, in particular, are going to lose business that never comes back. I estimate that means $150 million dollars was lost during the storms."

As the snow quickly turns to slush, Gov. Pat McCrory said he is now evaluating what a potential loss in sales and income tax revenues could mean for an already tight state budget.

"When people aren't in the stores shopping and working it does impact our budget to pay for things like storms in the future."

Gov. McCrory told reporters Thursday he will likely roll out his new state budget plan next week.

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