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Snow days cost local businesses thousands

Orlando Pinero

Orlando Pinero, owner of Cafe Rio Blanco in downtown Aiken, says having to close on Monday due to the weather was a financial hit, but the safety of his employees comes first. (January 11, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, January 11, 2011

AIKEN, S.C.---When a winter storm forces Walmart to close its doors, you know it's serious business. The storm hit local businesses hard.

Deborah and Orlando Pinero, owners of Cafe Rio Blanco, had to close Monday, and they lost money. Now the doors are back open.

"You do take a hit financially, but I believe safety comes first," Orlando said. "I would guess it's a 10% hit for the week."

Orlando reopened the restaurant hoping to get some customers and bring in more money. But as a dad of two, safety is his first priority.

"I prefer for my employees to be safe than to come here and open up and not have a lot of customer base," he said.

Many of the businesses in downtown Aiken were closed for a second day, so people were happy to see Cafe Rio Blanco open. Customers like the family atmosphere. Deborah and Orlando say their young employees are like family.

"I'm a mom, and I know their moms were freaking out, so we closed," Deborah said.

Other businesses were hit harder. The Equine Divine says they've lost over a thousand dollars in sales. The Aiken Quilt Shoppe opened for a little while, but then they decided to close because no one was shopping. They could be out thousands if the weather doesn't improve.

Danny Minolfo works at Lionel Smith. They reopened after a snow day Money and were happy to find a place to eat.

"For us to be open, it was more of a service to our customers, and the same thing with Rio Blanco being's to service the people downtown," Danny said.

Orlando says even though it's cold outside, Rio Blanco will stay open for business all week. He's hoping their lively music and food will welcome those wanting a warm place to get a bite.

"At least we are open for the businesses that are open downtown, so they can find something to eat," he said. "Some Cuban food."

And an escape to a tropical least for a little while.

Most downtown Aiken businesses are expected to be open Wednesday.

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