CARMEL, Ind. - The U.S. 31 road construction project in Hamilton County has taken a bite out of the profits of restaurants that sit along that stretch of road in Carmel.
That road construction forced closures from Old Meridian Street on U.S. 31 to 136th Street. There are over 100 retail locations along that stretch and those establishments are having problems.
Related Story: US Highway 31 closes north of Indianapolis
In hopes of giving the restaurants a boost, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has pledged to make "31 bites" during the 31 days of August.
John Perazzo owns J. Razzo's Restaurant near the 12000 block of North Meridian. He said his lunch crowd is down 50-percent and dinner has fallen by 15-percent.
"People just don't want to mess around with the construction during lunch because they only have a certain amount of time to dine," Perazzo said.
To help, Brainard launched the #31BITES orange-bracelet campaign.
"I very much encourage you to support the businesses that are located along U.S. 31. Shop here, eat here, pay taxes here, employ people here and contribute to the civic life of our community," Brainard said.
Despite the publicity campaign, Perazzo says the mayor is not doing enough.
"He should advertise or put up billboards and put ads in the paper. Put (the campaign) on TV and radio, telling people that the local independent restaurants need your help at this time," Perazzo said.
His regular customers understand the situation and are dining out more.
"My parents own a small business at 104th and College. The construction affects us so we try to support the local businesses as best we can," customer Jack Hughes said.
When construction is complete in Nov. 2014, it promises to remove traffic signals, reduce congestion and improve safety.
Until then, Brainard is encouraging everyone to use #31BITES on social media to raise awareness.