Sunday, 16 October 2005
By BRANDI BARHITE
SANDUSKY - As indoor waterparks spur year-round tourism, local restaurants and museums are exploring ways to cash in.
For the first time, the Sandusky Maritime Museum will open Fridays in the winter because tourism no longer ends when Cedar Point closes.
"We just noticed that there were some people coming by on Fridays, and we got some calls," said Executive Director Neil Allen.
Usually, the museum is only open Saturdays and Sundays during the off-season, Jan. 1 through Memorial Day.
Veronica Vanden Bout, director of the Museum of Carousel Art and History, experimented with staying open on Monday last year, but it wasn't successful.
"Most of the time they are leaving Sunday night or on Monday morning," Vanden Bout said about waterpark guests.
However, the museum is maintaining its hours 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
"We always prided ourselves on being a year-round attraction," she said. "We are accepting and encouraging visitors from the indoor waterparks."
Joan Van Offeren, executive director of the Erie County Visitors and Convention Bureau, said it may be a little early to see the full effect of the area's three indoor waterparks because Cedar Point's Castaway Bay hasn't been open one year.
"Although it's hard to predict, I think we will see changes, once we begin our ad campaign in January as Ohio's indoor waterpark destination, helping to create awareness of the fact there are three choices, each with their own theme."
Van Offeren said perhaps businesses will open an additional day, rather than extending hours. For example, Monday, for people extending their weekend, she said.
Dan Lee said he hasn't benefited from the opening of Castaway Bay. Lee owns the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, 1530 Cleveland Road, just down the street from the indoor waterpark.
This will be the second season Lee closes Perkins for the winter. The last day of this year will coincide with Cedar Point's HalloWeekends ending Oct. 30.
"Most of the waterpark guests tend (not to leave) because they are full service -- unless they are there for multi-days," he said.
Cedar Point spokesman Robin Innes said the majority of the guests at Castaway Bay stay two nights. During the summer, most of them go to Cedar Point one day, "and when they aren't at Cedar Point, we do a good job of offering enough amenities to keep them occupied at the resort," he said.
Castaway Bay features several restaurants, an arcade and spa, as well as its indoor waterpark area.
"That's the whole idea of an indoor waterpark," Innes said. "That's the appeal, everything you need is right there. It's a one-stop min-vacation."
But Angry Trout owner David Pichert said his Bay View restaurant often serves families from waterparks.
Angry Trout will continue to be closed Mondays this fall and winter, and closed for January, except New Year's Day.
"We shut down for maintenance and renovations; it is a slow month," Pichert said.
As of today, Mariner's Retreat Restaurant in Port Clinton will close again for the season. Restaurant owner Babette Klacik said it would be the owner's decision to stay open longer if there was demand.
"At the present time, we do open for private parties, we have been doing that for a few years," Klacik said.
Many of the patrons are tourists in the summer, although the restaurant's local clientele is strong, which is why the restaurant stays open until mid-October, she said.
Margarita Bay owner John Kubicek said lunches have been slow at his new Mexican restaurant on Milan Road. Even though it is near the Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark, he wants to bring more locals into the restaurant as well.
"Heck, I was ready to buy a shark outfit and stand out and hold a sign that says, 'Come on in,'" Kubicek said.
Among promotions to increase business are television-themed nights where patrons can watch "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives."
Sister restaurant Margaritaville on U.S. 6, will remain open Thursday through Sunday after football season. "Fifty percent of my business at this location is tourists during the summer," Kubicek said.
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