Oct 8, 2013 9:33 PM by Sean Mooney

Saguaro National Park shut down takes a bite out of local business

Tucson- Small business owners, and entrepreneurs from around the country, including tucson are starting to feel the ripple effects of the government shutdown.

One local, eastside restaurant has been hit especially hard.

Saguaro Corners, on Old Spanish Trail, is a restaurant that depends on the thousands of tourists that flock to Southern Arizona every year to survive.

Part of the restaurant's draw are frequent, up close, visits by javelina and other desert creatures.

But these days, because of the government shutdown, the native wildlife have been playing to very small crowds.

Saguaro corners is literally down the street from Saguaro National Park East, which has been ordered closed by the federal government.

600,000 people are estimated to visit the park every year.

Saguaro Corners' manager, Jessica Pickett, says that because Saguaro Corners is the only restaurant in the area for miles, it pulls in a lot of business from the park, "We are the first place they see, so it has slowed business for us generally in the evening, but we were also going to open for lunch", Pickett said, "We're not going to be able to do that if the park isn't having guests, we are not going to be getting any traffic through here."

The restaurant was scheduled to open for lunch October 1st, but the shutdown has put that plan on hold.

Pickett says the seasonal visitors account for about 75% of the restaurant's business this time of year and if the park remains shut down it could effect her employees, "Right now we are running with minimal staffing as it is", said Pickett, "it's hard to give people jobs when you don't have the hours to give them."

Pauline Muow, who lives near the Saguaro National Park, says she believes that if park remains closed all businesses in the area will eventually suffer because of the shut down, "I think it's a domino effect really, there's a lot of different things that are effected", Muow said, "you go out to the park and want to get a bite to eat after that or a drink somewhere, that might effect the businesses down the line."

In addition to both Saguaro National Park east and west being closed, there are partial closures at Sabino Canyon and on Mt. Lemmon.

According to VisitTucson.org, over 4-million tourists come to Pima County every year.

Fall peak season runs from September through October.


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