Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Businesses see bounce from Schaefer funeral

Onlookers crowded along Charles Street on Wednesday to watch the funeral procession for William Donald Schaefer, snarling traffic but providing a nearly captive audience for some nearby businesses.

Police officers in dress uniforms and security personnel for the dignitaries in attendance crowded lunch spots in Charles Center. People packed tables outside of the Superfresh grocery stores, though most were without shopping bags. Others sipped coffee cups from local shops, but more downed bottled water and soda to ward off the unseasonable heat and humidity.

John Hemmati, owner of Pizzeria Speranza, said his shop sold about 750 slices by 12:30, easily outpacing a normal lunch rush that sees 400 slices, or 50 pies, sold.

Hemmati, who also owns Maria’s deli, said he arrived early, at 6:30 a.m., to avoid the traffic delays and prep for the busy day. Maria’s was also about twice as busy as normal, he added.

On the other side of the food court, Brad Quint said The Beef Brothers deli he co-owns with his brother, Marc, was crowded early and consistently.

“You had a lot of police between shifts, and just a lot of onlookers who came by,” he said. “Even though we’re Schaefer fans and we’re sad, it’s been good for us today.”

Quint said a lot of his regular customers didn’t show Wednesday, but the deli made many catering calls for parties of 10 to 12 people at nearby companies where employees were trapped, unable to take their cars out of garages or travel streets closed for the ceremony.

Not all businesses benefited, however.

The plate-glass windows of the Peanut Shoppe provided perhaps the best — and air-conditioned — view of the front of the church and the procession that left it, but the sweets shop was mostly empty at lunch time, save for employees watching an Internet feed of the ceremony.

“It’s what I expected it to be. It hasn’t been too busy,” said owner Bonnie Scible.

A sign outside the Urban Cellars liquor store bade the former governor and mayor “Godspeed Hon!” and urged Baltimoreans to “Drink one for Willy Don”

But inside, owner Jim Amato said few customers took that advice. Amato and an employee

toasted the Maryland political giant with National Bohemian beers in the morning.

“People are just staying out of downtown today,” Amato said.