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SR 305 project takes cut out of area businesses

POULSBO — The State Route 305 widening project that began last August is expected to come to completion this fall, but some area businesses could feel the sting of lost sales much longer. A few have managed to continue operating without a hitch, but for others, blocked entrances and the loss of parking is leaving numbers on the decline as customers take their business elsewhere.

One establishment suffering from the construction is Los Cabos Family Mexican Restaurant, where parking especially has become a frustration.

“We lost close to half our business,” Los Cabos owner Roberto Soltero said. “It’s been affecting business pretty badly.”

Half of the Los Cabos staff has been let go because of slow business, Soltero said, though he hopes things pick up so that at least some of them can come back to work.

Flowers to Go manager Chris Poole said the cones creating a maze in front of her Plaza 305 location have been confusing, and have sent several customers around the block before they could actually pull in.

“People have a hard time figuring out how to turn in here.” she said.

For Caffe Divano, a coffee shop located near Northwest Design Center, blocked entry ways have had a real impact on business.

“It’s affected us a lot,” Caffe Divano manager Jamie Hausmann said. “Nobody wants to come in, especially after sitting in traffic for so long.”

Hausmann said the shop’s entry way has been blocked several times as crews pave, causing a drop in sales. Although the finished highway will be appreciated, its construction process hasn’t been an easy one, she said.

“It’ll be really nice when it’s done,” Hausmann said. “It’s just tough getting there.”

Even establishments with a regular customer base are suffering as roads continue to be difficult to navigate. Austin Chase employee Shaina Cohen said while regulars are still making their way through the SR 305 quagmire, others get turned off by the detour confusion.

“It hasn’t been too bad,” she said. “But it’s been noticeable.”

For Dave Sanford, owner of Emerald Hearth, Home and Spas, LLC, the SR 305 widening project has left his business barely hanging on.

“We’re lucky to be alive,” he said. “We’re down over 50 percent.”

Sanford said blocked access and limited visibility have drastically cut down his store’s foot traffic.

“It’s just a struggle,” he said. “I know progress happens, but it would have been nice if there was some assistance.”

There are other businesses near SR 305 that haven’t felt the pinch since construction began, and their owners are glad for it.

Bayside Cabinets owner Jeff Miller said while it’s difficult to tell for sure, he doesn’t think the road project has negatively affected his sales.

“Business is as good as ever,” he said.

Chris Hammett of Poulsbo Running said most customers have been able to find their way through back roads to reach the business.

“It’s pretty consistent,” he said. “There hasn’t really been a difference.”

Mario Pugh, owner of Ocean Reef Aquatics, said although his customers might complain about the orange-coned mess, they don’t seem to mind it enough to keep them from stopping by.

“I don’t think it’s really affecting us too much,” he said. “They make a comment when they come in, but it hasn’t deterred anyone.”

The impact of construction on SR 305 doesn’t seem to be reaching the waterfront either, as downtown business owners are enjoying a successful summer despite the city’s congested thoroughfare.

“I don’t think it’s affected us, frankly,” Cargo Hold employee Marge Harrison said. “We’ve been healthy all year round.”

Cedarwilde employee Karla Harlan echoed Harrison’s sentiments.

“We’re doing great here,” she said.

Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce executive director Stuart Leidner said while he’s sure businesses will be glad to see construction end, he hasn’t heard too many complaints.

“I think everybody is looking forward to it being done,” he said. “It’s no different than expected. Everyone was fairly well informed of the process... It’s not been perfect for any business.”

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