Biz boom, rah!

Locals might not be thrilled about this summer’s bumper-to-bumper traffic on PCH, but local business owners couldn’t be happier. When it comes to the Malibu tourist trade, sunny means money. From Moonshadows to Taverna Tony, cash registers are ringing and the crowds are back.

“There’s no comparison,” said burgermeister Steve Wiley of Country Kitchen. “It’s probably double from what it was last year.

Ah, yes — the surf is up, the sun is shining and Caltrans trucks are few and far between. It’s a far cry from the gray El Nino skies and slide repair of last year. “I’m fatally a sunshine-only business,” explained Wiley, whose snack shop specializes in the chili dogs and BLTs that beach days were made for. “Last year, I just got the tradespeople and folks who came in for work. All the through traffic was gone.”

It’s the same story across the street at Duke’s, where diners wait in line for a table at the Barefoot Bar. “Last year, we had no left-turn lane because of the slide,” said manager Jeff Mayhew. “That just killed us.” Like Wiley, Mayhew describes the difference between this year and last year as “phenomenal.”

The slide repair had an especially devastating impact not only on Duke’s but also at another eatery that was just starting out — Tutto Bene. Now both restaurants seem to have recovered and their tables are full.

“This is the best year we have ever had in this location,” said Vassil Pertchinkov of Guido’s. “It’s been really great.”

Like the restaurants, local retailers also have a lot less to complain about this year. At Indiana Joan’s, shoppers spent their weekend snapping up Chinese silk robes and summer shifts. Stores like Malibu Bay Company and Atlantis have had a steady stream of customers even during the week. There have been a few overcast days, but the crowds of people eager to escape the searing heat in L.A. keep on coming.

Most local merchants seem to agree that business is way up. How much their sales increase remains to be seen. The real tally will be made Sept. 7, when they begin counting up their receipts from the annual summer finale on Labor Day.

Until then, Wiley can’t flip his beach burgers fast enough.

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