Cedar BRT opening: Welcome relief near for business owners along Cedar

  • Updated: June 15, 2013 - 2:00 PM
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the business owner wanda oland

Photo: Liala Helal • liala.helal@startribune.com,

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Frustrated drivers stop for coffee at a local espresso bar. Customers from across the metro area get lost trying to find a vintage furniture store. Phones ring off the hook with people asking about alternate routes. And people decide not to go out to a bar and grill on a Friday night because of road closures.

These are the tales of Apple Valley small business owners on Cedar Avenue between 147th and 148th streets during the construction of the Cedar Avenue busway in the past two years. On a recent morning, three business owners chatted about it at the ValleyGirl coffee shop.

The shop’s owner, Jackie Lefebure, summed up the owners’ mind-set about their customers during the construction: “If they’re going to come, they’ll find a way.”

At times, the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Cedar has sent new faces to ValleyGirl. “I’ve had more customers because of traffic, because they’re tired of it. They get out of it for a cup of coffee and come in and grumble,” she said.

Wanda Oland, owner of Rascal’s Apple Valley Bar and Grill, has mostly regular customers, like ValleyGirl. But with Friday night closures of 147th Street from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., some have stayed away. “That will affect my late night — that’s a main deal,” Oland said. “But we have a loyal clientele — they get here one way or another.”

Patti Donahue-Peltz, owner of vintage furniture store Next Act, says the traffic has caused her some problems. Most of her customers come from outside Apple Valley and aren’t familiar with the detours. “People hesitate when they know there’s going to be a lot of traffic and inconvenience,” she said. “But for the most part, they still come.”

She gets phone calls from drivers who have been detoured and can’t find their way. She listens to their tales of the inconvenience.

With the bus line finally opening, business can put all the construction in the rear-view mirror. “We will be relieved when it’s done,” Donahue-Peltz said.

Liala Helal

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