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Downtown Minneapolis Businesses Hope Chauvin Trial Brings Much-Needed Boost

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- City officials say it again and again: Minneapolis is open for business. But just because businesses are open doesn't mean the customers are coming.

The pandemic has hit downtown hard. A majority of workers are now at home, but that could all change next week as the officer charged in George Floyd's death goes on trial. Thousands of people are expected downtown, and there are some businesses hoping this will be just the boost they need to make it.

For 13 years, Dave's Downtown has been a lunch favorite for many. Alex Barnier is part of the family that owns and operates it.

"It's been pretty inconsistent. We've kind of picked up once the winter came around, and we've had a lot of loyal customers who are coming to work," Barnier said. "We're almost a year into this thing and we've made it this far."

But COVID-19 sent many who made this a daily stop home to work, leaving owners wondering how they would survive. Several sky-blocks away, Amy Scott of Ginnelli's Pizza says the business is also counting on regulars to keep the doors open.

Ginnelli's Pizza Downtown Minneapolis Skyway Pizza Restaurant
(credit: CBS)

"It's been 10% of the business, basically," Scott said. "It's been pretty hard."

Skyway business owners hope the Chauvin trial brings more people downtown, giving their businesses a much-needed financial boost.

"We're planning on being open because people got to work, and there's a lot of security guards that need to eat, news people need to eat and people who are just downtown for whatever reason," Banier said.

These owners can see the preparations for the trial. Barriers and barbed wire, all part of Operation Safety Net. They have confidence the Minneapolis Police Department, its law enforcement partners and the Minnesota National Guard will keep people and property safe, while supporting the First Amendment rights of people to protest.

"We're going to stay open. We're not concerned about safety. It seems like they got everything covered," Scott said. "We're going to stay open because we figure that's also going to bring business downtown."

Business she hopes will help the bottom line and keep the skyway, the stores and restaurants inside it open.

Skyway businesses will also have security in the buildings where they are housed, working to keep property, employees and customers safe.

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