Coastal businesses seeing boom after reopening of Hwy 1

Posted at 7:07 PM, Aug 09, 2018

It’s been more than three weeks since Highway 1 reopened through Big Sur and local shops say business is booming.

The roadway was closed for 14 months after a massive landslide wiped out a large section of the highway north of Ragged Point. Crews recently finished rebuilding it.

A lot has changed since KSBY last checked in at Cayucos Coffee and talked with barista Jena Brancart. Back in March of 2017, the coffee shop was seeing 10 to 15 percent fewer customers each day, especially international travelers.

A sign posted at the time let visitors know Highway 1 was closed. But just three weeks ago, that sign was erased and replaced with their iced Big Sur tea special, a reminder of a destination now reachable with the highway’s reopening.

"We’ve definitely seen an increase per day of about 20 to 30 people and that definitely equates to a couple hundred dollars a day, so it’s been great for us as a business," Brancart explained.

Gerome Colacino stopped in the seaside town for some java all the way from Paris, France. 

"Beautiful coast, beautiful view. We didn’t take the coast the first time, just go the highway, but this time we wanted to do all the coast," Colacino said.

In Cambria, the parking spots were filled and tourists made their way from store to store, a dramatic change from just a few weeks prior. 

"It’s been a boom for our local businesses," said Mary Ann Carson, Executive Director of the Cambria Chamber of Commerce. "We’re so pleased to have the people that now can resume their vacations up and down the Highway 1."

"It sort of hadn’t felt like summer yet and then the road opened and it felt like summer all over again, kind of the number of people and the people coming through the store and the amount of purchases," said Alan Fraser, owner of the Love Story Project. 

In June of 2017, Fraser said foot traffic was way down but that’s no longer the trend. 

"Every once in a while, someone will come in and say, ‘Well, there’s no place to park. Where do I park?’ but that’s not great for them but it’s nice to know we’re filling up again," Fraser said.

With all of Highway 1 accessible, this newlywed couple is already planning their trip back to the Central Coast.

"We love it. We want to come back for our milestone anniversary," said Ryan Rafferty of New Jersey.

Businesses add that the last time they saw crowds like this was two summers ago.