NAPLES, Fla - You wouldn't suspect Christmas Day to be a big deal for local businesses. Many area restaurants and retail stores were closed for the holiday, but those that stayed open were all smiles.
Surprisingly Christmas is a big day for businesses on Fifth Avenue. A lot of tourists and locals came out this afternoon to dine on Fifth Avenue and do some shopping and business owners are hoping that momentum carries through the New Year.
Katie Bouza and her family wrapped up their Christmas with an early dinner on Fifth Avenue. "We drove down and expected a bunch of empty shops and no traffic and we're surprised to see a lot of area restaurants open," says Bouza.
L'Angolo 5th Ave is one of a handful of restaurants that kept its doors open this Christmas. "They tell us to stay open 365 days a year. I'd rather stay home with my family, but the customers are our families," says manager Domenico Bosco.
For Larry Liss, the owner of Blue Mussel, working on Christmas is a tradition. "I think it's a great day to be open. Many people are in town for the holidays, walking around with nothing to do."
Some stores and restaurants along Fifth Avenue did close for Christmas. Kilwin's has in the past, but this year is reaping the benefits of other open businesses.
"We decided to open on Christmas because there are a lot of restaurants on this side of the street that are open and they do great business so we figured we'd pick up their deserts," says Preston Dunn, manager of Kilwins.
As businesses look ahead to a big week between Christmas and New Years they're hoping the high foot traffic continues right into 2013.
"We're busier than last year. Today, we thought we'd be busy after 5:00 p.m. but we actually have been busy since noon, so thank God it's getting better. It's really getting better," says Bosco.
Several owners said business is about the same as last year, but say that's not a bad thing since last season was so great. They do think that the bad weather they're already seeing up north will send more tourists south.