‘Inevitable Decision’

Businesses Expected To Take Hit With Festival Cancellation

Forte The Restaurant owner Peggy Kaltenmeier was not surprised that the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival has been postponed this summer. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Businesses in downtown Jamestown will take another financial hit this year because of the postponement of the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, but they’re not surprised by the decision.

National Comedy Festival officials announced Thursday that they would be delaying the event until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It felt like an inevitable decision they would have to make given the state of affairs,” said Peggy Kaltenmeier, Forte the Restaurant owner. “We’re disappointed, more for the whole town. It’s one of the busiest weeks for us, and we love to share with people from out-of-town.”

Joe Town, Pace’s Pizzeria owner, agreed that the comedy festival being canceled was likely, and keeping everyone safe and healthy is more important.

“It’s disappointing, but I think it was probably expected,” he said. “I don’t think it comes as a surprise, and we understand. That is the big thing. We understand.”

Crown Street Roasting Company owner Michael Bigney said no comedy festival this August will impact his business, but an even larger impact is the cancellation of in-person events at the Chautauqua Institution for the entire summer. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Michael Bigney, Crown Street Roasting Company owner with his wife Sarah, said the comedy festival being canceled will be a negative impact for the business in August, but an even larger blow to their business is the Chautauqua Institution canceling in-person events for the entire summer.

to be huge for the entire economy of Jamestown and Lakewood,” he said. “That is going to be huge. More than anything like the National Comedy Center being closed or Lucy Fest being canceled. Chautauqua (Institution being opened) is the entire summer, not just four or five days. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll make the best of it.”

The business owners agreed that they will have to be more innovative to draw more business because there will not be as many tourists this summer.

“It has definitely changed what we have to focus on and we will need to be more creative,” Kaltenmeier said.

Town said businesses will have to be resourceful to attract people to purchase their goods.

Pace’s Pizzeria owner Joe Town understands the decision to delay the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival until next summer. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

“So what’s going to have to happen is we’re going to have to work to bring folks from out of Bemus (Point) and Lakewood to makeup for those sales,” he said. “Personally, I think the answer is outside dining. That way we can get the outdoor crowd, and we cam make them feel more secure and draw some attention to the downtown.”

Both Kaltenmeier and Town are two of the six downtown business owners who have lobbied city officials to pass new zoning laws to allow for more outside dining and entertainment. City officials have been open to the idea and are working on possible policy changes to assist businesses.


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