WOLF CREEK, Ore. – Restaurants and businesses are still feeling the heat from fire camps being set up in towns were tourists usually vacation in the summertime.
Some restaurants said they saw a decrease in tourist traffic this summer, but they saw an increase in business from fire fighters.
“We make probably three times the amount in the summer months compared to the rest of the year,” said Baldini’s Restaurant and Lounge owner, Karen Baldini.
However, that’s not the story this year. Baldini’s Restaurant and Lounge in Merlin said they lost more than $40,000 in revenue this summer due to the wildfires.
“We would get business from the guys at night when they would come off of the fires and that helped out considering we didn’t have any of the tourism dollars this year,” said Baldini.
The heavy smoke kept many tourists away… And according to Baldini’s those tourists are their main money makers.
“It’s all river rafters… they come from all over the world to go down the rogue river and when they come back through they stop here for their dinner.. their bottled wine.. cocktails,” said Baldini.
Baldini said they lost $15,000 alone in beer and liquor sales.
However, another restaurant in Wolf Creek says their alcohol sales remained the same as years past. The Wolf Creek Grill and Deli, connected to the 76 gas station, said the fire crews actually helped them double their annual revenue.
“They came over and bought a lot of Redbulls, tobacco and Rockstars and whatnot and a lot of food,” said Wolf Creek Grill and Deli employee Michelle Giacolini.
The restaurant is also attached to a gas station that benefited from the fire crews.
“We probably doubled if not tripled in our fuel sales fueling all their water tankers and even their little engines,” said Giacolini.
Both businesses said they will be able to make it through this winter and into next summer.