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Downtown Norfolk businesses excited over the Patriotic Festival's return to Scope

Festival organizers expect to see 20,000 people for the three-day festival.

NORFOLK, Va. — Some Norfolk business owners said events like this weekend's Patriotic Festival keep their shops thriving. 

“Cruise ships, festivals, any big event downtown, we’ll see a lot of overflow from that,” said Brian Zawacki, the owner of Zeke’s on Granby Street.

The Patriotic Festival is now one of many events Zawacki and many other business owners look forward to.

“It was good extra business for everybody coming off of what we’ve been through,” said Robert Soscia, the owner of Famous Uncle Al’s Hot Dogs and Grille.

Soscia said last year’s festival came with a lot of foot traffic downtown and more cash flow into his restaurant.

“Any extra business is just a bonus,” he said.

He said he's looking to see that bonus again this year. The festival kicks off Friday for its second year in Norfolk after festival organizers moved it from Virginia Beach.

Kurt Krause, the CEO of Visit Norfolk, said with it being Memorial Day Weekend, hotels are going to be packed. He said the indicator of a good weekend depends on how many people stay in the city Sunday night.

“What the Patriotic Festival did last year is they increase the occupancy on Sunday," Krause said. "So, we’re hoping to see more of that this year.”

Krause also noted weather as a challenge last year. While festivalgoers won’t see any issues with all of the performances taking place inside the Scope Arena, Zawacki said he expects to see nonstop service all weekend.

“Personally, I expect to see the back of that kitchen but we expect to see tons of customers inside, Google reviews, people posting about us, and Instagram stuff,” Zawacki said.

Festival organizers expect to see 20,000 over the course of the weekend. Last year, organizers said they saw around 26,000 people.

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