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Queens Chronicle

Open impact depends on just whom you ask

Businesses around the National Tennis Center say results vary

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:14 am, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

Ray and Maggie Dimmock hail from London, the home of Wimbledon, tennisí most prestigious tournament and most coveted title.

"But the US Open is the best value of all the Grand Slam events," Maggie Dimmock said last Thursday, seated in the Grandstand just off of Louis Armstrong Stadium. "Including Wimbledon."

The Dimmocks are staying with their daughter in Manhattan for the duration of the tournament, certainly saving on the meals, lodging and ancillary expenses.

And they, like many fans interviewed on Thursday, said they would simply hop back on the train to their lodgings in Manhattan and elsewhere without taking in restaurants or shops either in the neighborhood of the tennis center or elsewhere in Queens.

The United States Tennis Association says that the Open — an international event long before the tournament left Forest Hills in 1978 — can be counted on to pump more than $750 million into the cityís economy.

Much of that, however, is generated on site, or in Manhattan, where people stay in hotels and dine either before or after the tennis.

The direct economic benefits for business owners along Roosevelt Avenue vary, according to whom one asks.

"We get some people, but not a lot," said the owner of a gas station and convenience store who asked not to give his name.

Auto traffic might be expected to be light, with the No. 7 train running along Roosevelt Avenue, including one stop at Citi Field that has a pedestrian ramp leading directly into the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and another at 111th Street that is within walking distance.

The stretch of Roosevelt itself has a small handful of businesses that might benefit, all running west between 114th and 103rd streets.

Many of those are personal service businesses, including a laundromat, insurance agencies, an upholsterer and stores for wireless phone services.

But at El Callao, a sit-down restaurant that features Peruvian cuisine, owner Jose Garcia said through an employee that they have been pleased with the uptick in customers coming in for a bite to eat on their way to or from the Open.

"Most come from the train, but we have some who drive," the employee said.

Parminder Chahal, owner of Ganpatri Rasol, a small shop serving pastries and prepared food on Roosevelt Avenue, says the difference has been negligible. "I think we have had a few people from a local hotel."

Head east of the tennis center along Roosevelt Avenue and a visitor would not encounter any type of restaurant or hospitality-related service between 126th Street — the location of the soon-to-be-doomed Willets Point auto repair business labyrinth — and College Point Boulevard.

Bob and Marsha Alfera of Orange County, Calif., said they were part of a group that took the train back and forth between Manhattan and Queens each day without exploring the tennis center's immediate environs. "But we are going up to the Bronx for a Yankee game," Bob Alfera said.

And while not of a direct benefit to Queens, their hotel, restaurant trips and visit to the House that Ruth Built are cited by USTA and city officials alike as a positive economic impact on the city as a whole.

Arthur Meisler of New Jersey and his family are semi-regulars at the Open.

"We're here to watch Christina McHale, the Jersey girl," he said of the Teaneck, NJ, resident and 114th-ranked woman on the tour.

He said they were at the tennis center on a day trip and "haven't decided yet" if they would look for a restaurant or some other feature in Queens before heading home.

Eric Lowe and Sarah Sharpe, down from Albany, said they had not yet stopped in the borough outside of the USTA grounds.

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