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CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - Typically this time of year, local tourism dollars start coming in. But business owners say with the ongoing cold and snow, they aren't seeing the traffic they are used to seeing right about now.
Jackie Kelley is a co-owner of GeJo's By the Lake, and purchased the restaurant from her aunt and uncle two years ago. This time last year, their patio and even the grass were filled with hungry customers. This year, it's not happening, and because of the snow, they've even had to close more often, and change plans.
"The historical information that provides us how we order product for the month, and how we hire, how we allocated manpower and all of that, and we just keep having to scratch that," Kelley says.
Ralphene Stokke is the co-owner of Ralphene's. In her 40 years of operating the business with her husband, she has never seen anything like this year's weather, and it's slowing business to the point where she's also had to close because of the snow.
"We've lost two Saturdays because of this snow, but we've not seen this much snow this time of year," Stokke says.
Despite the cold, Stokke notes that Clear Lake has several things going for it in order to draw in visitors.
"It's a good meeting place because we have several bed and breakfasts, and several hotel rooms. We have a lot of good eating places, and a lot of good shopping, so that draws a lot of people," Stokke adds.
With warmer temperatures in sight, Kelley is hoping for more traffic to come in their door, but it may be into the fall before business is back on track.
"It's hard to make it back up, but we're hoping that maybe we've had such an interesting cold, quiet spring that maybe fall...we can make it up on the other end," Kelley says.
Prime tourism season for North Iowa typically begins around Memorial Day.