Love her or hate her, the citizens of the Castro are coming down with a strong case of Britney fever.
While most are excited about at least the novelty of the pop star’s outdoor concert appearance later this month, some businesses are not so pleased with the Sunday performance date and street closures.
Restaurants, bars and coffee shops will likely benefit from the untold thousands that will flock to Castro Street between 19th and Market streets on March 27, but other merchants, like the employees of Cliff’s Variety, say they have little need for Britney’s crowd.
“It’s going to kill the parking for two blocks on a Sunday,” said Martha Asten, owner of Cliff’s Variety. “It’s a publicity thing.”
“We’re not impressed,” she added.
Ebba Story, an employee of The Bead Store just outside the planned stage site, echoed Asten’s sentiment.
“I don’t think they’ll even notice we are here,” Story said of the throngs likely to turn out. “We may even close.”
City officials have tentative plans to shut down the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street for the performance and related filming being done by “Good Morning America,” which plans to air the footage the following Tuesday. Police will be used for crowd control and an undetermined number of people will be let into the cordoned-off area. The ABC show has agreed to reimburse San Francisco for the public cost of crowd control and Muni rerouting on the 24-Divisadero and 33-Stanyan lines, according to Supervisor Scott Wiener.
Other business owners said any attention on the Castro is good attention, especially during a down economy. Still, even those expecting bigger business seemed somewhat cynical.
“I just think she’s trying to compete with Lady Gaga for fanbase,” said Dee Khoury, proprietor of the Castro Coffee Co. “Hey, but if it’s attention towards the Castro, that’s great.”
Bryce Charles, a baker at Hot Cookie, said he’s expecting business to boom. Despite Spears’ custody troubles with her children due to substance-abuse issues, he also has no problem with her planned visits to local youth organizations, including the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center and Larkin Street Youth Services.
“Let her breast-feed them,” Charles said. “I would even breast-feed off Britney Spears.”
Alan Beach-Nelson, president of the Castro Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, was unable to attend a meeting about the event logistics last week with ABC producers, but merchants he has heard from have all been positive, he said.
“I think most businesses will benefit. People are going to want to get a cocktail, get coffee, get something to eat,” Beach-Nelson said. “For everybody else, it’s going to be chaotic.”
Correction: This article was corrected on March 14, 2010. The original article incorrectly identified the owner of The Bread Store. Angela Olivia is the owner of the store. Ebba Story, quoted in the article, is an employee.