Savannah businesses scramble to deal with restrictions due to VP Pence visit

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — At the corner of Bull and Oglethorpe in Savannah, there are plenty of people inside and outside enjoying the food today at Collin’s Quarter.

But in the past 24 hours, restaurant staff has been forced to find a new plan for St. Patrick’s Day. That’s after the news that Vice President Mike Pence will be visiting here in Saturday and viewing the parade.

The restaurant says it normally has an “event” planned for parade day and sells tickets ahead of time. So far, it’s had some cancellations because people “don’t want the hassle of trying to get into the zone.”

The “zone” stretches from Oglethorpe to Bay Street and from Drayton to Whittaker. There will be heightened security including the use of metal detectors from 7 am to 10 am.

Restaurant bar manager Rebecca Schmidt told us their only option is to have employees lined up at one of the security checkpoints and hope they get in shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday.

She says their event is supposed to begin at 7 a.m. so “employees may be arriving the same time as the guests.”

Schmidt also says their popular outdoor seating which is a big hit for the parade all has to be removed.

“This has been frustrating. If we had known sooner we could have probably had time for a better plan but to have the city spring this on us this week has been challenging,” she said.

Up the road on Broughton Street, we talked to Shawn Johnson who owns and operates the Rise Biscuits and Donuts.

He was worried about a planned sweep of the zone area from 4 to 7 a.m. and was under the initial impression he and employees would have to vacate the shop during the very time they need to make their morning pastries.

But Johnson said he learned today he can be in the business as long as “he is there before 4 a.m.”  He does say they will probably have to open a half hour late Saturday morning

And he has some concerns that customers may not want to bother to get to his place between 7 and 10 a.m. because of the heightened security and also because once people are in the zone they cannot leave after 10 a.m.

The manager of Starbucks on Bay Street told us they had planned to open at 5:30 a.m. Saturday. She said the only way that can be accomplished now is to get into the zone before the 4 a.m. cutoff.

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