Austin-area businesses see sales increase as tourists return after COVID-19

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – Tourists are starting to return to Austin, after more than a year of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the weekend of May 21, visitors were here for the first-ever NASCAR race in Austin and the University of Texas during the Austin Opening Ceremony.

Some companies have said that KXAN weekend sales are up and they are optimistic about what will happen in the future.

Mexican restaurant Meches, like so many other businesses, was unsure whether it would survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Usually Saturdays and Sundays are our busiest days, but today it’s kind of like any other,” said Yaritza Felipe-Celis, assistant manager of Mexican restaurant Meches. Meches is a short drive from the Circuit of the Americas, where the NASCAR races were held.

Felipe-Celis said his sales this weekend were up 50%, compared to an average weekend.

“We had people from Tennessee, Colorado, everybody come in,” Felipe-Celis said.

Racing fans have said they are thrilled to be back at an event like this, after COVID-19 canceled thousands across the country in the past year.

[I’m from] Deer Park, Texas, it’s been a fantastic day, ”said Chris Graham, racing fan. “I just presented [my friends] at NASCAR – so this is their first race.

Dirty Martin’s Place, another restaurant, said there were crowds of people coming to celebrate UT graduates.

“It’s really wild, because there’s been no one here, really since March 17 of last year,” said Dirty Martin owner Mark Nemir.

Nemir said they had just restarted on-site dinner sales on May 21. And as he looked around his restaurant on Sunday, seeing people dining at his house still seems surreal.

“It really is,” Nemir said with a smile on his face. “We have had so many customers thanking us and we thank them. It’s just an interesting and mutual thing.

As Dirty Martin strives to rehire their staff, building on what looks like a fresh start, Meches is also looking to the future.

Felipe-Celis believes tourism to the Austin area will return to normal soon, and better than before.

“We’re a very small, family-run restaurant, so having so much business means a lot to us,” said Felipe-Celis.

KXAN spoke with a few other bars in downtown Austin, who said outside of graduation and NASCAR, they noticed Austin was still a party destination for weekend getaways. -end.



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