Downtown Tampa businesses are wary of Bolllywood hype

Less security, fewer barricades

TAMPA - Eftechios Xanthoudakis, owner of the Samaria Cafe on Tampa Street, was told to prepare for a stampede of  Republicans in 2012. So he did.

"We overloaded and overstaffed the place expecting big business," he said. "Unfortunately, we didn't have anything like that."
 
Like other businesses that were cut off from RNC conventioneers by a maze of barricades, the Samaria Cafe actually lost money having to give away or throw away food they couldn't sell. They desperately hope the upcoming Bollywood awards will be different.

"The RNC was a national security event. You had to have certain security procedures in place. You had lots of dignitaries that had to be protected. This is not like that," said Santiago Corrado, CEO of Visit Tampa Bay.

The Bollywood awards will be more like a Superbowl held downtown, Corrado said. At the RNC, conventioneers were held up with meetings and conferences day and nigh, he said. Bollywood attendees will have more time to explore.

There will be security for the Bollywood event -- not so much to protect dignitaries, but to control partiers.
 
"If you have 5,000 or 6,000 fans show up at a hotel because they want to catch a glimpse of their favorite star, then you have to have some order around that. I think that rather than protestors, we'll see fainting fans downtown," Corrado said.

Only after the event will we know if the estimated $30 million in Bollywood economic impact will pan out, but Xanthoudakis is ready to try for a grand slam.

"We look forward to have a great business," he said. "I'm pretty sure this time we're going to be very busy and going to be very happy."

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