Businesses close in downtown Bradenton

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BRADENTON - The "closed" sign says it all on the door of the Lucky Dog Cafe. Things are locked up tight at the Retro City Diner and the only thing moving at Jennifer's Cafe during lunch hour is the wind blowing through the old ceiling fans.

"It always concerns us," said Bradenton Downtown Development Authority's David Gustafson.  "We don't like to see anybody go out of business, but I mean there's always market adjustments as we go through the process."

Those restaurants were right in the heart of downtown Bradenton, the district that for years now has been touted as an economic powerhouse.

Despite the closings, local development leaders say it's a pitfall that faces any city.  "We don't really have any concerns right now," said Gustafson.  "There's always the adjustments that are going to occur in a community, it's inevitable."

Take a walk down Main Street at lunch hour though and you'll see most restaurants are packed.

It's just one of the reasons business owners say the area continues to attract new interest.

"With the Riverwalk coming in it actually put us on the map for people to come from around the surrounding areas to come to downtown Bradenton to enjoy the events," said Cork Miller, owner of Cork's Cigar Bar on Main Street.

But could it be that Main Street itself is the only safe spot for opening a business?

"Absolutely not," said Gustafson.  "I mean the Pink Palace is a testament to that, the Riverwalk is a testament to that, the Manatee Players is a testament to that."

He says when the Pink Palace hotel opens, it will bring 30,000 to 40,000 new guests into the community.

Gustafson did say that the Downtown Development Authority is also working with parties from Chicago, Miami, New York that are all interested in opening establishments downtown, showing the area is still proving attractive to developers outside the immediate area.