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Businesses Near St. Matthew’s Cathedral Brace for Papal Crowds

by Sean Meehan September 22, 2015 at 3:35 pm 0

Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle

Several business near St. Matthew’s Cathedral are bracing for arrival of Pope Francis.

The pope will bring his entourage of road closures, beefed-up security and onlookers to the Dupont Circle area tomorrow morning as he visits with bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. The owners of several businesses that share the 1700 block of Rhode Island Avenue NW with the church are preparing for street closures and large crowds, but few are planning to close for the day.

At Jack’s Fresh, a restaurant across the street from the cathedral, owner Susan Yin said that she plans to stay open tomorrow. Yin added that several customers have asked, noting that that eatery’s windows directly face the front steps of the cathedral.

“I was surprised no police came to check security yet,” Yin said. “But I hope the pope can find time to come over here to enjoy lunch.”

Customers may have to use the restaurant’s entrance on M Street NW if the Rhode Island Avenue entrance is blocked off. Yin added that had not heard specific directions from police on how the barricades that are already cropping up along Rhode Island Avenue will affect her restaurant, but she hopes at least one customer will be allowed through the store’s main Rhode Island Avenue.

The owner of Marbi’s News Stand, which is next door to Jack’s Fresh, said he doesn’t expect customers to be able to reach his store from Rhode Island Avenue, but said his entrance within the OFC building will remain open.

On the other side of the OFC building, on M Street, businesses aren’t dealing with as many physical barriers, but are still bracing for crowds and traffic problems.

The owners of Suki Asia restaurant say that they will prepare boxed lunches ahead of time so they can better serve the expected crowds of pope-watchers.

Across M Street, employees at Avis car rental say their storefront will remain open, but because there will be so many road closures in the area, they’re encouraging customers to go to their other locations at Union Station and National Airport.

Mike Caruso, vice president of Caruso Florist on M Street NW says he’s not sure what to expect tomorrow. He expects crowds in the area around the pope’s visit but with so many people in the area working from home, he thinks the area might be empty for much of the afternoon.

Caruso’s business provided several flower arrangements to the cathedral for their services, and he hopes that they help create a festive atmosphere in and outside of the church.

“A lot of people aren’t working so I think it’s going to be like a snow day most of the day. There will be people around the church, and I think it’ll get pretty festive.”

But one thing the pope and his fans may not be able to do tomorrow is bank: Both the BB&T Bank location at the intersection of M Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue NW and the Sun Trust bank location at the intersection of M Street NW and Connecticut Avenue NW will be closed all day.

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