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Economic impact of TD Beach to Beacon 10K not lost on Cape Elizabeth businesses

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Economic impact of TD Beach to Beacon 10K not lost on Cape Elizabeth businesses

CAPE ELIZABETH — With more than 6,000 runners expected at this year's TD Beach to Beacon 10K, along with thousands of supporters and spectators, some local businesses are looking forward to an annual influx of customers.

The 17th annual race will be run Saturday, Aug. 2, starting at 8 a.m.

But many business owners said race day is actually less busy than the Friday and Sunday of race weekend. 

"Generally, the Friday before is quite good; business is very good," said Tony Kostopoulos, owner of The Good Table restaurant on Route 77.

He said runners and spectators often come after the race to eat, but that during the race, the restaurant is quieter. 

The scene is similar at Kettle Cove Creamery and Cafe, according to owner Mark Pendarvis. He said the Route 77 drive-in sells a lot of muffins and coffee early in the morning on the day of the race, but then it slows down.

Kostopoulos also said many people come early for muffins and coffee, and that The Good Table gives them free to runners and spectators on Saturday morning.

The Local Buzz, near the town center, also sees an increase on race morning each year, according to employee Owen Garcia. He said breakfast sandwiches and bagels sell quickly, and that the coffee shop has learned to order extra for the weekend.

"It gets pretty intense for a period of time," Garcia said. "It's usually really busy for a solid two hours."

The same is true at The Cookie Jar, even though the Shore Road bakery is about a mile north of Fort Williams, where the road race ends. Owner Donna Piscopo said she has to order extra food and bottled water for race weekend.

"We make probably four times as many doughnuts as we usually do on a Saturday," she said.

Piscopo said the bakery will also have twice as many employees working, because it is one of their busiest days of the years. She said the store usually sees its first customers between 4:30 and 5 a.m. on race day.

"It's super, super busy and it starts really early," Piscopo said.

But the race can also have a downside.

Pendarvis said it can drive customers away, because people not interested in the race won't come to Cape Elizabeth that day. He said those people try to avoid the town, with its road closures, parking problems and extra crowds, on race day.

"A lot of times the day of the race, people stay away," Pendarvis said.

Janice Stockson said that has been her experience at Shore Things. Her women's consignment shop is on Shore Road, just past the halfway point in the 6.2-mile race, where runners start their approach to Fort Williams.

"I'm all for the race, but it hinders business," Stockson said.

She said that after a few years of being open on race day and getting little to no business, she now shuts down on that day. She said it gives her an opportunity to take the day off, since her shop was being visited mostly by race spectators interested only in the use of the bathroom.

"It's a race, and people are not interested in much else," Stockson said.

Pendarvis, however, said his Kettle Cove shop does see an increase in business the evening after the race, because people like to come for ice cream after a long day outside.

Nearby, The Inn by the Sea will be fully booked and very busy this weekend, but not because of the race.

"The reality is that we're on the ocean and this is our busy season anyway," inn spokeswoman Rauni Kew said.

Kew said with the inn's location and the summer weather, every weekend in July and August is busy. She said race weekend doesn't produce any more business than usual, but that a couple hundred extra people will come through on Friday for the annual press conference with the elite runners. 

Kew said the inn enjoys being a part of the Beach to Beacon, because the race organizers stay there each year. Runners who aren't local residents typically make other arrangements, she said.

"Many (runners) who need a place to stay, stay with host families," Kew said.

While it may have an impact on business revenue, the race doesn't cost the town of Cape Elizabeth anything.

"The race doesn't burden any municipality with any financial burden," Beach to Beacon director Dave McGillivray said.

Town Manager Michael McGovern said the cost of police officers, firefighters, public works employees and transportation is paid totally by race organizers. Agencies that provide support are from South Portland, Portland, Scarborough, Westbrook, and Old Orchard Beach. 

According to McGillivray, the combined expense from all agencies last year was about $19,700, covered by race sponsors and runner entry fees.

McGovern said Cape Elizabeth is also paid by the Beach to Beacon to host the race. The race pays the town $25,000 each year, which goes into the Fort Williams Capital Fund to make improvements to the park. According to McGovern, the park brings in an average of $160,000 each year, which includes the amount paid by the race.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.