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Park City business owners coping with lack of Sundance visitors

Posted at 12:34 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 14:34:54-05

PARK CITY, Utah — The 2021 Sundance Film Festival kicks off Thursday evening and this year it’s mostly virtual.

The festival usually brings a huge economic boost to Park City, but the online nature of this year’s event means local businesses will need to seek other ways to make the income they can usually count on during the festival.

“Sundance is a big economic boost for us and most businesses see probably 10 to 15% of their annual sales come from Sundance and they’re going to miss that this year,” said Park City mayor Andy Beerman.

RELATED: At Sundance, pandemic dramas unfold on screen and off

Restaurants like Grappa, Chimayo, Sushi Blue and many others are now having to improvise to make up some of that lost revenue that they’re seeing from the lack of group reservations.

“To some extent it’s a little bit of a lost cause because the groups were one of the biggest areas where we saw that revenue but with a lot of curbside pick up more robust online ordering and focus on takeout has really been a big bridge for us,” said Matt McMillen, operations director for Bill White Restaurant Group.

RELATED: The Sundance Film Festival goes largely virtual for 2021

McMillen said the struggles of the pandemic has caused them to do some soul-searching and get back to the heart of what they do... Caring for customers.

“For the people that are coming to town we still are really doubling down on our standards of excellence and have really focused on the customer. We have less customers to focus on, which means we can do a better job with each and every one,” McMillen said.

RELATED: Was the 2020 Sundance Film Festival an early outbreak of COVID-19?

While not having festival-goers in town this year is upsetting for most people, Mayor Beerman said there are some positives

.“As much as it’s disappointing not to have the festival in town, it’s very hard to get tickets and go to events, so I’m encouraging residents that this is the year that you’re not working as much because things aren’t as crazy and you can log on and access some of these films online,” Beerman said.

To get tickets and access to films, visit the Sundance Institute website.

Mayor Beerman says he’s looking forward to the return of the festival in 2022.