By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Big crowds for summer night concerts on Windsor’s Town Green haven’t translated to more customers for adjacent restaurants, and the Town Council wants to help.
Council members on Wednesday discussed ways to increase patronage for surrounding business, including possibly closing another street to cars to allow local restaurants to set up food booths.
“Restaurants could come out on McClelland (Drive) and have a street presence,” suggested Councilwoman Debora Fudge, who said other local businesses might also participate.
Fudge and fellow council members spent more than two hours reviewing a list of more than a dozen recommendations that came out of two previous public meetings. The council solicited opinions on the summer series that ranges from concerts, to kids’ movies, to Shakespeare on the Green.
The council reached consensus on adding more portable toilets, continuing to allow dogs on a leash and increasing security to ensure concertgoers abide by chair height limitations.
The most contentious issue came from some local restaurants that have complained their business actually dropped on Thursdays during the concerts because the simultaneous farmers market has brought in out-of-town food vendors.
None of the Windsor restaurateurs appeared at Wednesday’s council meeting. Town officials said they may have been placated knowing that they will be part of a subcommittee to investigate and recommend ways to increase patronage during the summer night events.
Some of the ideas include having a “shout out” during band breaks to let the audience know about specials and discounts, although council members said that may not be enough.
“Talking heads won’t necessarily do anything. People will ignore it,” said Councilman Sam Salmon, who added “during the concerts there’s no one going to go to the business to any great degree.”
But overall, officials said the summer entertainment that just ended was a success.
“People were happy enjoying concerts. They were downright bubbly,” said Mayor Steve Allen.
“Last year was just phenomenal. It’s the safest and happiest people have been,” said Glenda Castelli, manager of the Certified Farmers Market. Her organization is a partner in the summer series and sponsors some concerts.
Windsor, which has completed 11 seasons of summer events on the Town Green, describes it as the town’s “signature attraction.”
Windsor draws some of the biggest crowds in Sonoma County among cities that stage free concerts and events throughout the summer.
Approximately 7,500 to 8,000 people flocked to the largest of the 2011 concerts that included bands such as It’s a Beautiful Day, Tommy Castro and Wonderbread Five.
Theater on the Green produced a total of six performances over two weekends, with an average of 300 people per show.
Most of the costs of staging the Thursday night events are offset by almost $57,000 in sponsorship money and another $13,700 of in-kind services.