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ACL brings thousands of people to Austin, yet one downtown business loses most of its customers

Casa de Luz, a restaurant in the heart of downtown Austin, loses 90% of its customers because of road closures.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin City Limits Music Festival generated $369 million in economic activity in 2021. Hotels, restaurants and local businesses all felt the impact of ACL. 

But while it was a time of much profit for some, it was a time of much loss for one Austin restaurant. 

Casa de Luz is on Toomey Road. This is one of the roads that's closed off because of ACL. This road closure is also the reason Casa de Luz restaurant loses about 90% of its customers during the festival.

"I think yesterday we had about 100 [customers] the whole day," said Stephanie Martinez, Casa de Luz manager. "So, that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner."

Usually, they'll have more than 500 customers for only lunch and dinner. 

Martinez said through the years, they've tried to get the word out. 

"We do post on our social media that we are open," Martinez said. "We have a newsletter that we like to put out there, trying to make sure community members know that we are open. It still doesn't work as much."

What many people don't know is that the sign that says "ROAD CLOSED" also says "RESIDENT AND BUSINESS ACCESS ONLY," meaning people attending ACL can't use Toomey Road, but those who what to dine at Casa de Luz can pass by.

Chandan Lakhotia is a faithful Casa de Luz customer. When he went to the restaurant on Sunday, he was shocked at how it looked. 

"I was here yesterday and it was empty," he said. "Like, eerily empty compared to ... the usual state on the weekend."

He was able to make it to the restaurant because he rode his bike there. Casa de Luz also recommends using scooters and public transportation. 

During a weekend like this past one, Casa de Luz depends on people like Lakhotia. 

"Anyone that comes here … we're so thankful for," Martinez said.

In the meantime, they try their best to get by. 

"We also had to cut some of our staff because we just don't need them," Martinez said. "So, it's very sad to have to do all of this."

For now, they can only wait for ACL to leave town.

Pamela Comme on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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