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Omaha's Gene Leahy Mall opening causes an influx of people downtown, businesses are optimistic

Posted at 8:07 PM, Jul 12, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Less than two weeks, that's how long the Gene Leahy Mall has been open, and businesses are excited to have the crowds back.

"It's really great to have the mall complete, it was not the best thing for downtown to have it under construction all the time," said Jeff Jorgensen, co-owner of the Old Market Candy Shop.

The Old Market Candy Shop has had more customers coming in to cool off and get a sweet treat after exploring the park.

"We are having our customers come in and tell us just how wonderful their experience has been at the mall and how they intend to come downtown a lot more frequently," Jorgensen said.

The summer is a busy season for many Old Market businesses but having the park finally open, is a bonus.

"The whole summer has been pretty busy thankfully, this past week what we have seen is a lot of the return of our local crowd since College World Series is over," said Shannon Saulsbury, assistant manager at Plank Seafood and Provisions.

The opening of the park has given the food truck business new opportunities as well.

"It's been an average lunch crowd. Just people coming and going. But the impact of telling our story and letting people know who we are has been priceless," Gregory Foot, manager of the Mobile Grace Cafe food truck, said.

The BBQ Brothers food truck came out for the opening weekend and decided to come during the week, too.

"A lot of people have also come to our cafe in Omaha and a lot of business has come our way in the last couple of weeks actually," said Duane Foster, owner of BBQ Brothers.

And overall these businesses are happy to see changes in downtown Omaha.

"With the walking mall being completed and also so many other exciting new buildings coming up, new restaurants opening, more shopping, more living spaces, it really just shows you that Omaha is going to be even more of an exceptional place 10 years from now," Saulsbury said.

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