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Christmas weekend turned out to be an economic booster for local businesses

Hotels and restaurants saw a wide range of visitors, and they are only hoping for a busy New Year’s weekend.
Posted at 6:08 PM, Dec 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-27 21:08:26-05

Madonna Inn has its 'sorry no vacancy' sign on and just walking inside you can tell why.

“We noticed a lot of people booking ahead of time, so our Christmas Eve and our New Year’s Eve reservations booked up months in advance,” said Amanda Rich, the marketing manager for Madonna Inn.

It has been non-stop at Copper Café and Silver Bar with guests just a little more bundled up.

“This last weekend we were very, very busy, I think also because Christmas landed on a weekend, so our numbers were probably 200 more than last year,” explained Rich. “We have our big New Year’s Eve bash, which is coming up this weekend and our numbers are around 460 for New Year’s Eve.” 

A report by Mastercard found that sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 in 2022 grew 7.6% compared to 2021.

“Our opportunity to see the visitors in Downtown is primarily at Santa’s House and we had some very busy days at Santa’s House we had a healthy mix of local families, people visiting out of town, across the state and even from some other countries,” explained Downtown SLO CEO Bettina Swigger. 

Gustavo Sánchez is the manager at San Luis Taquería right by Mission Plaza. He said that having that holiday display helped draw customers in.

Sánchez said they thought that with the Cal Poly students off on their winter break their sales would go down, but he said they actually went up 80% compared to last month.

“The chamber and city’s buy local bonus program helped a lot; this is a program where you can get a gift certificate if you spend $100 on a local shop,” explained Swigger. “We’re hoping that the Eat Local Bonus program which will start in January will continue to encourage people to come to Downtown.”

Mastercard also found that restaurants saw a 15% increase in sales this holiday season.

Sánchez said their best sellers this weekend were tacos and burritos, and they hope New Year’s Eve is just as busy.

If you are planning to celebrate New Year’s at a bar or restaurant, Downtown SLO recommends making your reservations as it is expected to be a busy weekend despite the rain.

“We have indoor celebrations happening at restaurants, bars, and hotels downtown, so we encourage you to come out and support those,” said Swigger.

Here is a list of events taking place this weekend in Downtown San Luis Obispo:

For restaurants, January tends to be a slow month, so Swigger said they are looking forward to launching their Eat Local Bonus program next week.

Starting on Jan. 2, 2023, if you spend $100 or more at a restaurant or eatery, you can take your receipt to the Chamber of Commerce to get a $25 dollar gift card to spend at local restaurants.