Businesses near GSMNP see different results after park reopens

(WBIR - Townsend) October is usually one of the best months for businesses near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but a couple of Townsend businesses experienced some very different October results.

3 Lil' Pigs Smokepit has been in business for only two years, but the money the local restaurant earns is 60 percent of the family's income.

Co-owner James Latham said, "My other job pays the major bills and this provides my grandsons and my wife with whatever they need."

Latham said the family-owned barbecue business almost went up in smoke.

Latham said, "What we'd typically make in October would be around $6,000 - $8,000 for the month. This month we've made about $2,500 - $3,000. We were lucky to be able to keep the doors open."

The reason Latham gave is the closure of the Smokies during the first half of October. Latham said his business depends on tourists and while lawmakers in Washington argued, he and his family struggled to make money.

"This month was terrible. This is the worst I've seen." Latham continued, "Right after the park opened up our business picked up, but as you can see the trees have already started losing their color so tourist season is down now. It's gone."

It was a different story for Burgermaster, which is not too far from 3 Lil' Pigs Smokepit.

Bob Hurst with Burgermaster said, "The day that they opened the park we got slammed."

The burger joint said customers flocked to the family-owned business, which resulted in record sales for the month of October.

Hurst said, "This has been our third best month this year. It's better than last year and actually better than we've expected with some of the things that have happened, like the government shutdown. I guess it did fall off a little bit, but not nearly as much as we expected it to."

Although the government has reopened, lawmakers still have some negotiating to do. The deal reached that reopened the Smokies only funds the government through January 15th.


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