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Jacksonville businesses brace for a GOP convention no show

If the party is over, it could financially ruin companies that planned for the crowds

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The dream of owning a local business and making millions in profit a year seems long gone these days. 2020's pandemic blew out any hope of trying to get ahead of any planned profits for a lot of businesses we use, especially that corner store or favorite restaurant we enjoy. 

There was hope that big events like the RNC unexpectedly being redirected to town could change business budget woes -- finally, some saw a little relief on the horizon.

"We have already gotten in touch with Jacksonville Republican convention center and have told them our restaurant is available for them for meetings and anything they want to do," said Freddy Ghobad, owner of Dora's in downtown.

Ghobad had been working aggressively to be one of the official GOP restaurants for its visiting members. It's a plan he had been working on for weeks.

But now things could change if the sheriff's concerns for a thumbs up convention could hit a pause. If the convention didn't happen, it could strike a crushing blow to companies especially restaurants who have been stock-piling inventory preparing to feed the big crowds.

"I bought so much stuck, meat, bread, sauce, cheese and more. Now if this convention is called off, I have to keep items in the freezer hoping my small amount of regular customers will eat it all," Ghobad said.

Still, with facing a potentially huge loss, Ghobad doesn't blame anyone for it, he feels we should listen to the experts because they know best.

"If the sheriff, or whoever, says this convention can't happen due to safety then I have no choice but to adjust and get through this the best way I can," he said.

Now it's just a wait and see for Ghobad and neighboring downtown businesses hoping they can grab some money this year to recoup all they've lost.

RELATED: Jacksonville sheriff: 'Significant concerns' with viability of RNC in town

RELATED: RNC Host Committee names hundreds of First Coast businesses as event vendors for August convention

RELATED: Memo: RNC to limit public attendance for first three days in Jacksonville