DOWNTOWN — Santa Monica has more than just an art event to glow about.
More than 150,000 attended Glow — a biannual nocturnal art and cultural event — on Saturday night, driving a wave of customers into the seats of local restaurants and the beds of packed hotels.
Local businesses, many of which were advertised on City Hall’s website, found their sales boom during the eight-hour event.
“It was a great day, it was a busy day, and at night it was a lot busier than a normal Saturday,” said Dan Flannelly, general manager of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. on the Santa Monica Pier. “Any event that will bring more people and expose the pier a little more is always a good thing.”
Flannelly wasn’t alone in his sentiment.
“Our business improved greatly because it was open longer,” said Alfonso Alvarez, general manager of Cafe Crepe on the Third Street Promenade at Broadway. “I’d say we probably did 10-15 percent more than on a regular Saturday.”
Despite the gains, Cafe Crepe made less than what they did during the inaugural event in 2008.
City Hall’s Cultural Affairs director, Jessica Cusick, said she had only preliminary information on Glow’s economic impact on Santa Monica, “but it’s looking extremely good.”
In addition to visitors, the free event, featuring 20 original installations and art displays at a cost of roughly $600,000, with about $100,000 coming from City Hall’s general fund, also attracted local residents. City officials said they parked 1,670 bicycles, a sign that locals came out to play. That said, parking lots and structures were full.
“There was more of a draw for locals to come down on that particular day,” said Flannelly, who said he met more Santa Monica residents than usual on Saturday.
Hotels were either sold out or close to selling out, said Kim Baker, director of marketing for the Santa Monica Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
Ocean View Hotel, which offered free glow sticks and an afternoon check-out time for those who stayed up late checking out the art, reached maximum capacity and had increased bookings for Sunday night.
“Guests were very enthusiastic about having the event here in Santa Monica. We got a lot of positive feedback from our hotel guests,” said Robert Farzam, Ocean View Hotel owner and manager.
Despite gains for businesses closer to the festivities, those further away didn’t feel the effects.
Although featured on the city’s website, DoubleTree Guestsuites, located on Fourth Street, did not sell more rooms than usual.
The hotel’s promotional package included a breakfast for up to two people per suite.
“Promoting Santa Monica as an international city of creativity is partly an economic concept,” Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Supervisor Nathan Birnbaum said. “But, the prime motivator is to involve people from the L.A. region in a transformation of public space and have a chance to engage in art.”