News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, April 18, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Business across Richmond County and downtown Augusta are feeling the heat with Operation Thunder. Sales for businesses have dropped, causing owners to get more concerned with how the crackdown is affecting them.
"My sales immediately dropped," said Bryan Mitchell, owner of The Cotton Patch.
Mitchell says Operation Thunder has been a dark cloud over his business.
Ever since the crackdown began almost three months ago, he says The Cotton Patch has been stuck in a dry spell.
"You can take years and years of sales history and go back to the specific period, and all of the sudden, you've dropped 40 percent, it's pretty obvious," he told News 12.
It's slower nights and smaller alcohol orders.
"it's not just the alcohol, it's the food, it's hourly labor, I've had to cut back on schedules," Mitchell said.
Other restaurants are feeling the pinch, too.
Places like Metro Pub and Coffeehouse say their late night sales are down.
Even customers are noticing.
"The businesses, I'm sure, are hurting, I don't see as many people down here," said Princess Hemingway, a regular in downtown Augusta.
It's Hemingway's regular spot, so she's had a front row seat to watch it all unfold.
But Operation Thunder isn't raining on her parade.
"It's not a danger, it's not a threat being down here, it's a threat everywhere, you know, you can't just judge downtown," she said.
But the way she sees it, too many people are.
"As these businesses close, that's not good for our economy," Hemingway said.
But Hemingway isn't blaming law enforcement.
"It's about responsibility, not about the alcohol, not about downtown," she said.
And Mitchell isn't either.
He says he hopes downtown can weather the storm and survive the drought until Operation Thunder blows over.