Businesses anticipate smaller crowds this inaugural weekend

Business has been slow this week at Souvenir World and owners say they aren't confident it will get too much better.

Business was brisk for the lunch rush Wednesday at P.J. Clarke’s just down the street from the White House, but they are expecting even bigger things this inaugural weekend.

“We’ll have a big tent outside,” says manager Scott Shirley. “We will have a beer garden set up out there.”

Shirley believes, compared to the same time last year, business will double this weekend.{ } Being so close to the White House and the parade route makes him confident that tens of thousands of people in town for the festivities will make their way to his restaurant.

“In downtown D.C. this time of year it’s a little bit slower so it’s nice to have the inauguration every four years,” says Shirley.

Lois Pimentel and Hunter Landow are in town from Florida for the inauguration and stopped by Souvenir World downtown to pick up some gifts, but otherwise, business has been slow this week and owners say they aren’t confident it will get too much better.

They aren’t the only ones not sure what to expect.

“The big pomp and circumstance they usually go through, they aren’t this year, so people aren’t coming as much,” says Jacquie Sproul.

At the Marriott in Chinatown and at many hotels in town, they are worried. Reservations are up for mid-January, but they thought they would have been sold out by now. Inaugural festivities this year are scaled back over four years ago, and the two official balls will both be held at the Convention Center.

“The businesses in other spots are able to open for business and have private parties and neighborhoods are less impacted,” says Steve Kerrigan, the president of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.