Italian Grill owner says city needs to do more to bring people downtown

PADUCAH — A local restaurant owner says foot traffic in downtown Paducah is dropping, and that’s forced them to close.

Italian Grill on Broadway Street closes Saturday, consolidating with its two sister restaurants — Pizza Warehouse and Grill 211. The owner is criticizing the city, because she says it’s not doing enough to promote downtown businesses.

Joan Manganaro says, when they first opened Italian Grill, business was booming.

“Four years ago, downtown was a much different place. I think that city government in the past has done so much to bring business and customers downtown, and I just don’t see that now,” Manganaro says.

Manganaro says the city needs to figure out a better marketing plan before other businesses start closing shop.

“We’re not the first one to need to move our business to a higher volume trafficked area. The Farmer’s Daughters Soap Company that was located downtown had a great, thriving business at one point. It weaned to nothing, and so they — just like us — have moved their business out by the mall,” Manganaro says.

Paducah City Commissioner Sandra Wilson says the city is always looking for ways to improve downtown as a whole.

“We want to make the playing ground level for this community where everybody can be successful. So, I think it’s the governments role to do the best that they can to promote and make it a business friendly community and to be promoting our community as a whole. I think we do quite a bit to promote downtown,” Wilson says.

But Wilson –who is the president of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce — also says businesses have to market themselves. “Businesses are also responsible for themselves. I think it’s the government’s role to do the best that they can to be promoting our community as a whole,” Wilson says. “I think we do quite a bit to promote downtown.”

Manganaro is a business owner forced to make a tough choice, and she says she hopes others aren’t forced to make a similar one in the future.

“I think that our new city government has to take a sharp notice to the fact that we are losing downtown, and we’ve got to pull it back — not only in the winter months — but every month of the year. We’ve got to bring things downtown to interest the consumer to come down and enjoy downtown.”

Manganaro says all her employees will continue working at her two other restaurants in Paducah.

We reached out to Paducah Mainstreet Director Katie Axt hoping to find out what she’s doing to help draw people downtown. We are still waiting to hear back from her and from Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless.