New Haven’s ‘Summer Saturdays’ helps downtown businesses recover from coronavirus shutdown

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — “Summer Saturdays” in downtown New Haven is helping small businesses struggling amid the pandemic shutdowns to recover. As part of the effort, 45 New Haven businesses and restaurants offered discounts.

It gave small business owners, like Linda Rais, something to smile about.

“It shows that people care about us,” she said. “It’s been scary.”

RELATED: List of businesses participating in New Haven’s ‘Summer Saturdays’

Linda owns Knit New Haven — a place for people who love to sew and knit get their supplies. She’s been in business for 11 years. But in March, when the pandemic forced her to shutdown, she started to worry.

“I stopped my original career to do this full time so it was scary,” she said.

At the same time, Linda was just learning that her son caught COVID-19.

“He was constantly tired, lost his sense of taste, lost his sense of smell,” she said.

A campaign launched on social media to help people like Linda seemed to catch on.

News 8 saw many people out and about this Saturday for “Summer Saturdays”. Mary Hu — a longtime customer at Knit New Haven — was out in front of the store knitting with yarn she just bought at the store.

“It’s absolutely essential to come out and support the business,” Hu said. “I think that many businesses are hurting but particularly small businesses like this that really rely on customer loyalty.”

Over at Prime 16 on Temple Street, News 8 found loyal customers like Samantha Gettings and Brian Crozier eating outside.

“We thought we could do our part to help boost business and get outside a little bit,” Samantha said.

“We’ve been coming here for a long time but it’s been a while since we’ve been because of everything going on,” Brian said.

At Prime 16, they also have a special menu and pricing just for “Summer Saturdays”.

“We thought it was a good deal. $20 for an entree and an appetizer and some good drink specials, too,” Samantha said.

The General Manager of Prime16 New Haven told News 8, the first “Summer Saturday” effort was super.

“I couldn’t be happier that something like this is going on because it’s a boost for us,” said Joseph Hamboussi. “It’s a boost for everyone’s morale, too, my staff included. When we opened at 12 o’clock we had five, six tables outside ready for the menu first thing.”

“Summer Saturdays” also includes live music on the streets (from noon-2 p.m.) and discounted rates at downtown parking garages.

In a statement to News 8 about the effort, Mayor Justin Elicker said, “Our businesses have been hit hard by COVID19. Summer Saturdays is a fun way people can support businesses safely.”

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