SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) – People in Springfield see many businesses come to town, but not all of them make the final cut. For the ones that not only survive, but also thrive, what is their trick?
First Watch Cafe on National Avenue is one business that is flourishing. “Year-to-date in sales we are number seven of 340 (approx.) of the First Watch restaurants and climbing,” said James Tillman, the owner of the Springfield First Watch location. “I think Springfield loves to eat.” He said they pride themselves on offering fresh food cuisines and are deep- fryer-free in the kitchen. “Everything is made to order everyday, nothing’s kept in the freezer, it’s all fresh,” Tillman said. “We make everything to order and people love the freshness.”
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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is another business with a crowded parking lot each week. Jennifer Johnmeyer, the Creative Manager for the Springfield location, said the Springfield theater is the chain’s largest with 14 movie screens. She also explained it can be hard to compare success theater to theater on a national scale because of size differences. “Some have six, some have eight, some have eleven, but we have 14 — So, it’s not really something that we can compare that way because we do have more screens to offer more movies.” She also said they are enjoying the challenge of getting people out of their homes and through their front doors. “We just try to go above and beyond to make it an experience designed for people who love movies.”
Johnmeyer and Tillman both agreed Springfield is a great place to live and work.
Apart from what is proving to be great business plans for these businesses and the support from people who already live in Springfield, what other factors are impacting the current economy?
“Overnight travelers generate the biggest economic impact,” said Tracy Kimberlin, the President and CEO of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. He said the average out of town visitor will spend more than double whatever their hotel room costs out in businesses in the community. He also said over the past nine months, the demand for hotel rooms has seen a double digit increase. Kimberlin credited the opening of Bass Pro’s Wonders of Wildlife for the boom in Springfield popularity. “You’re brain-dead if you don’t know about Wonders of Wildlife by now.”
Tracy painted a picture and does some math to drive home how huge tourism is in the Queen City and how it benefits all business sectors. “We have 6,000 hotel rooms in Springfield and more on the way,” he began. “The hotels are full and we have a couple of people occupied each room, that’s 12,000 plus people looking for some place to eat.”
Kimberlin finished, stating he doesn’t see this boost ending any time soon, especially as summer begins. He encouraged everyone to continue to live, visit and grow with us. “I think it’s a great place to live and as a result it’s a great place to visit and I think our visitors will attest to that.”