"The traffic's gotten pretty nasty over here," said Aaron Slomski, a manager at Jimmy John's, 10919 W. Bluemound Road.
"We have seen a decline in in-store sales," said Abby Lutgen, marketing manager for the local Qdoba stores, speaking of the location at 418 N. Mayfair Road.
At Suburpia, 10853 W. Bluemound Road, business is down "nothing more than 40 or 45 percent," owner Will Foley said. "Oh, it's horrible!"
What do these businesses have in common? They all try to make a living near the corner of Mayfair and Bluemound roads, where cars at rush hour are held up for so long drivers may feel like they have parked.
The impact on sales at Jimmy John's "has been pretty drastic," Slomski said. So bad, in fact, the store has had to change its staffing patterns. Business is especially bad at rush hour and later, he said, and the quick delivery service Jimmy John's prides itself on is not always quite so quick.
"That's a big factor," Slomski said.
The store runs 14 delivery cars at lunchtime, many delivering catered meals, and while avoiding the intersection would be nice, doing so involves turning left, or west, out of the driveway — crossing a queue lined up for the light — and it isn't always possible.
Planning has begun for the last two weeks of July, when the intersection will be shut down entirely, Slomski said, although he's not sure what will happen.
Finding a way through
At Caribou Coffee, 418 N. Mayfair Road, "obviously, it's tough to get here. People are avoiding the area, so business is definitely down," manager Carolyn Brown said. Like Jimmy John's, she had to cut shifts, and said the morning is especially bad.
"The main time we feel our hit is weekday mornings. It used to be really busy, but people can't get here, so we're not very busy," she said.
At Caribou, some consideration had been given to shutting down when the intersection is closed, Brown suggested, but "they've actually come back and said it's not going to be a complete shutdown now."
At Qdoba, next door, Lutgen said the news isn't all bad. Construction has affected accessibility, of course, hurting walk-in business.
"However, we've seen an increase in our online ordering and our catering orders. So that's been nice to see. More businesses I think are trying to pull together and order lunch for everybody, or they're trying to place the orders online, so somebody comes and picks up the food and it's ready to go. You know, they all don't have to go over there and wait in line or find different parking or get stuck in construction."
Qdoba has other stores not too far away, and some business has transferred, she said. The opening of a new Qdoba in the Village of Wauwatosa, in early August, also will help.
Lutgen said staffing has been adjusted.
"It's similar to the volume at our campus locations. When school's in session, we have different staffing than when school's out of session. We kind of just have matrixes that we apply given the trends that are taking place."
Like Caribou, the Qdoba store on Mayfair will stay open when the intersection shuts down. Qdoba will even "market that," Lutgen said.
Happy hour stalls
At Mo's, like at the other restaurants, there are definitely fewer customers, general manager Jennifer Gotto said. Business is down anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent, depending on the day and time.
"Lunch we're still able to get people in and get them out in a decent amount of time, so we haven't lost a lot of that," she said. "But our happy hour time period, from 3 to 6 (p.m.), (it's) a time when people are literally stuck sitting in traffic."
Gotto said Mo's was still working on a plan for how to handle the intersection closure.
"We're hoping we'll be able to stay open for part of the time. We're really not sure."
Suburpia's Foley feels ill-served by the powers that be.
"I think the businesses have been done a substantial disservice despite the support of Mayor (Kathy) Ehley ... and their concern and their efforts. The signage has been dreadfully inadequate about how to get to any of the stores," he said.
Still, Foley said, he feels blessed to "have the loyalist group" that still makes the effort to get to the sub shop.
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