Pocket Park concerts increase customers for local businesses

Local businesses like Raven Brewing and Barbecue and Blue Cow Cafe experience an increase in business from the weekly Pocket Park Concert Series throughout the summer. As the series comes to an end for the season this year, employees only expect to see a slight decrease in customers on Friday afternoons. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — The weekly Pocket Park Concert Series will draw to a close for the season today, but local businesses are still benefiting from the summer-long event.

Darrin Crowder, kitchen manager at Raven Brewing and Barbecue, said the weekly concerts frequently bring new faces to the restaurant and downtown area.

“You walk outside and see everyone gathered around and people stop in who don’t normally come here,” he said.

Employees with Blue Cow Cafe, which sits next to Raven, also notice an increase in profit during Friday afternoons throughout the summer due to the concerts.

Blue Cow Cafe General Manager Joel King said although Raven typically is the busier of the two because it is directly next to Pocket Park, both restaurants experience significantly more foot traffic.

With the concert series ending this week, businesses expect only a slight decrease in customers.

“Friday lunch is always decently busy,” King said. “I think we will slow down some, but not a lot.”

While the restaurants located closest to the musicians benefit from this annual event, downtown Big Rapids as a whole can prosper from community involvement similar to the Pocket Park Concert Series.

“Friday afternoons are so vibrant in our downtown,” said Jennifer Heinzman, member of the Downtown Business Association (DBA) Board of Directors. “I think the concert series really lends itself to the cool vibe we have there.”

Heinzman said the combination of the concert series and the weekly farmers market, across the street from Pocket Park, happening at the same time on Fridays makes this section of downtown “the place to be.”

She added anything the community or DBA can do to increase activity and traffic in the area will be good for local businesses.

King said many of the events hosted by the DBA have a positive effect on business for Blue Cow Cafe, including the monthly First Friday events throughout the summer.

“Even though they aren’t right in front of us, they do bring in business,” he said.

Crowder added he is thankful for everyone who comes to the Pocket Park Concert Series during the summer and is glad to see people getting involved with downtown Big Rapids.

“Supporting the community is a good thing to be a part of,” he said.

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