City offers more than hotels 

Chamber of Commerce, companies aim to draw visitors west of highway

BURLINGAME — Downtown businesses hoping to lure in travelers from the area’s many hotels east of the freeway are starting with the people guests rely on for information — the hotel staff.

The Burlingame Chamber of Commerce and local businesses are teaming up in November to bring hotel guest service personnel from at least five hotels to downtown, to bring them up to speed on the new services and restaurants available on the west side of the freeway.

"We want them to be able to say to their clients, ‘yes, I know a great steak restaurant right across the freeway,’" Broadway merchant Ross Bruce said. "Or, ‘sure, I know exactly where you can get that hem repaired before tonight’s event.’"

Hotel employees such as doormen, bellmen and assorted "front-of-house" workers — arriving via downtown trolley Nov. 9— will be invited to sample food and learn about the services available on Broadway to keep business in town, chamber President David Lewin said.

A similar effort with Burlingame Avenue merchants will start at the beginning of 2007, Lewin said, after some new businesses there have time to settle in.

Lewin, who is also general manager of San Francisco International Airport Hyatt Regency, said some 90 invitations will go out to guest services employees at the Hyatt, Marriott, Doubletree, Sheraton Gateway and Embassy Suites Hotels in Burlingame and the Westin in Millbrae.

The City Council recently approved a handful of retail options on the east side, designed to provide more services for hotel guests. Hyatt employees also already provide guests with information about downtown Burlingame restaurants and services, but many of the employees don’t live in the city or have first-hand experience with the restaurants and shops.

"This is a chance for them to taste the food, be face-to-face with the people providing this service and keep business in Burlingame," Lewin said.

A year ago, the city relaxed its moratorium on restaurants in the Broadway shopping district at the request of several merchants and residents near the district. The ordinance, which previously decreed a 23-restaurant limit on Broadway, was amended to allow for five more, according to city planner Meg Monroe.

Chocolate Mousse Bakery, Broadway Grill and Joanie’s Happy Days Diner are now setting up shop. Rocca’s Ristorante, an Italian restaurant, opened in June. An art gallery is set to open on the 1300 block of Broadway, and a women’s and children’s clothing shop, Blue Skies over Broadway, is also set to move soon to the thoroughfare.

tramroop@examiner.com

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