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Bad weather to blame for lost sales in restaurant industry

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Go out or stay in? The freezing cold has caused nearly a third of adults in the U.S. to cancel dinner plans this winter, according to a survey by NCR, a restaurant technology provider.

"It translates into lost money," said Sam Tornatore, owner of Babe's in North Utica.

Twenty-five days have plunged below zero, making it the coldest winter in nearly a decade. Tornatore says his weekday sales are down 10 to 15 percent.

"The regular customer base just isn't out on the road so it's really an 8 to 12 p.m. where it becomes counterproductive to be here, but we're still open until midnight every night," said Tornatore.

The owner of Babe's is able to make up his losses on the weekends partly because of a major game-changer for the area- the Utica Comets.

"We've been blessed with 38 at least 30, I think there's eight or nine games left, nights that have brought thousands of people to a half-mile radius," said Tornatore.

Plus there's one thing that makes Utica different from many other places. Central New Yorkers can handle the cold.

"Moe's, Five Guys, Outback, Applebee's, I go out, we go out once or twice a week so it doesn't keep me in," said Karen Clark.

"I don't remember a March or even an April without snow and cold so we're used to it," said Erica Wood.

While the weather has frozen some sales this winter, Tornatore, who is also a part-owner of the Comets says the hockey team is just the start of things warming up.

"I see a lot of good things happening near and around the Auditorium with the hotel's development and what the mayor's doing and after having been here a long time I think our sales years ahead are going to be the best we've ever had," said Tornatore.

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