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U.S. Open benefits mixed in Del Mar

An informal survey of businesses in Del Mar showed mixed revenue results from the U.S. Open held at nearby Torrey Pines.

According to Del Mar Village Association President Walt Beerle, who assisted in conducting the survey, restaurants in town did booming business, while hotels showed varied results. The retail sector fared the worst of the three merchant groups.

Beerle said the “unscientific” survey, which was conducted the week after the U.S. Open closed shop, was prompted by curiosity from the Del Mar Village Association’s executive board.

He said the survey showed restaurants were the big benefactors of the golf tournament.

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“Restaurants did exceptionally well,” said Beerle. “Across the board there was anywhere from a 10 percent to 20 percent increase in sales. Bully’s for instance did great, they said it was better than Track season.”

Dan Sbicca owner of the Sbicca restaurant was also pleased with the results.

“If we had the U.S. Open everyday I’d be really happy,” said Sbicca, adding that sales were up more than 19 percent from the previous year.

Except for the newly remodeled L’Auberge Del Mar which had been booked for sometime in anticipation of the U.S. Open, Beerle said results from other downtown Del Mar hotels were mixed.

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“Interestingly they were not great,” said Beerle, “they said bookings were about the same as last year. Some had vacancies.”

He said several complained of the parking shuttle operation conducted by the USGA, in which the majority of tournament attendees were shuttled to Torrey Pines from Qualcomm Stadium, with many presumably staying at Mission Valley area hotels.

“One manager said if it was not for the Open, their occupancy would actually have been less,” said Beerle.

The same cannot be said about hotels just outside the city limits. Carmel Valley’s Doubletree Hotel was completely booked, but as a caveat, the hotel was the official lodging place for the throngs of media that descended on the area for the tournament.

The Marriot across the street from the Doubletree did very well, according to General Manager Dennis Fraher, who said the hotel’s 109 rooms were sold out for several weeks. He also said the hotel’s Arterra Restaurant had the best month in its history.

“We did very well,” said Fraher, “we set a record for the most business ever.”

Del Mar village retail though did not perform to expectations according to Beerle’s survey.

“As a whole it was not good,” he said. “Most said they just did not have the traffic coming in.”

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Jeanne Spadoni, the financial service manager at Del Mar’s Union Bank, assisted Beerle in gathering retail proprietor reactions for the informal survey. She said there was widespread disappointment.

“They were definitely disappointed they didn’t do better,” she said.

Spadoni said one store owner near Bully’s said she saw a lot of men coming from the restaurant but none going into local stores.

“But then men don’t shop,” quipped Spadoni.

That gender demographic may have had an effect on Del Mar retail. Sbicca acknowledged an increase in the male population at his restaurant.

“Come to think of it, we did have a lot of groups of guys,” he said.

Judging by usage of the Del Mar Village Association’s summer valet parking program, visitors, whether male or female, were at least driving into town.

Beerle said on Monday of Open Week, six visitors used the parking service. By Thursday, that total had jumped to 44.

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Beerle says the survey will serve no specific purpose for his organization, which is currently assisting in revitalization efforts for downtown Del Mar through the national Main Street program.

“There’s nothing we can really do with it in retrospect,” he said. “But the results were interesting.”


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