Shops Near Collapse Suffer

ATLANTIC CITY – Nobody picked up laundry Friday at Vince Hwang’s Brighton Cleaners on Atlantic Avenue.

Usually a popular dry cleaning destination for Topicana Casino and Resort guests and employees, it was empty the day after the fatal parking garage collapse, as employees at Brighton Cleaners and many other local businesses stood outside their empty shops, gazing at the wreck across die street.

“We have problems,” said Hwang, who remained open for business. “Yesterday, today. tomorrow; nobody can enter: Hwang estimated that his business is losing $2,000 each day traffic remains detoured around the block of Atlantic Avenue between Brighton Avenue and Morris Avenue.

Outside on the street was a veritable village of reporters and police. Most shops remained deserted.

“Business has stopped completely said Robert Ruffolo, of Princeton Antiques and Books. “People weren’t allowed on the sidewalks.”

Employees came to work anyway, catching up on paperwork and making Internet sales.

Many of them had to part blocks away and duck yellow police tape to reach their businesses. Jitney buses, mostly empty, circled around the detour carrying their few frustrated passengers to destinations.

“People were just getting off buses.” Jitney President Emmanuel Mathioudakis said.

While local shops stalled, bars near the scene were packed with construction workers looking for a respite from the recent stress.

“Wouldn’t you go to a bar after yesterday?” said Micheal DiPiazza, a bartender at the Chelsea Pub where all the barstools were occupied. “It’s usually very loud in here, but today it’s quiet”

Construction workers leaned against the bar with sullen faces while they sipped frosty beers. The remains of the garage looming in the backdrop.

The scene was similar at Tony’s Baltimore Bar and Grill.

“It’s been busy here,” bartender Jim Mooney said. “Last night was jamming. The union guys were all drinking shots – usually they just drink beer.”

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