ATLANTIC CITY - Local businesses gave mixed reviews today on how the Dave Matthews Band Caravan has affected their bottom line.

A few along Albany Avenue said the anticipated traffic nightmare drove away customers and that city officials shut down their attempts - not always successfully - to balance expected losses by charging for parking and selling alcohol and snacks.

Opened two months, the Veggie Grille, on Albany Avenue across the street from Bader Field, got a rush after the concert let out around 11 p.m. Friday, manager Larry Jonuzi said this afternoon.

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But the restaurant and wine bar also decided to sell beer and Jell-O shots from a temporary setup in its front parking lot. Renting the beer truck cost $15,000 for the weekend and, despite checking with the city in advance, establishment management was informed mid-afternoon Friday they needed a special-event permit and had to shut down the bar, Jonuzi said.

Across the street, bottled-water vendor Kevin Crosby said the same officials approached him about packing up his cooler, but he was able to stay because he has a street-vending permit.

The same license allowed the Sunoco gas station at the island-side base of the Albany Avenue bridge to sell water. But that won't make up for the $5,000 the owners think they'll lose from a pedestrian barricade cutting off most access points.

On the other side of the street at Ventnor Avenue, the Gulf station's gas and mechanic shop suffered, but owner Muhammad Ilyas expects to make up for it with sales in the station's convenience shop. He estimated the store will make $4,000 more than usual over the three-day weekend.

Farther away from the venue, hotels and casinos reported upticks in business. The Chelsea Hotel's front-desk staff attributed its sell-out weekend to the Caravan. Resorts Casino Hotel spokeswoman Courtney Birmingham cited the same reason for increased occupancy and crowds at on-site restaurants such as Gallagher's and Cappriccio and clubs Boogie Nights and Prohibition.

Others such as The Palm inside The Quarter at the Tropicana Casino and Resort said they saw no increased business from the Caravan. The Palm General Manager Paul A. Sandler said Friday night that volume had fallen 'well short' of normal for June.

No matter what the Caravan means for their profits, businesses and Chelsea Heights residents agree that the fans attending the event are shockingly polite.

"They're the nicest people, very polite, not drunk or rowdy or crazy," said Jeannine Vico, who runs a car wash on Albany Avenue with her husband Gregory a block away from their house.

Police also said Friday's crowd was relatively calm and reported no car accidents, violence, felony arrests or other major incidents associated with the event. Of 25,000 people attending, just four went to the hospital for issues related to heat, pre-existing medical conditions and excessive drinking.



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