ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Businesses in downtown Rochester are reacting after it was announced Thursday that the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival will take place on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus this year, rather than downtown.
Jim Kaiser is a regular at Temple Bar and Grill on East Avenue.
“It’s just a friendly environment. I come here a few times a week, and quite frankly, it’s a nice place to wind down after a tough day at work,” Kaiser said.
And he likes the bar for the same reason he loves downtown.
“That’s why I live downtown. It’s because of the wonderful, wonderful cultural things that happen in this city,” Kaiser said.
So though he understands why, he was still a bit disappointed to hear the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival won't be held at its usual home downtown this year. Instead, hosted at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
“I’m concerned that it’s not going to have the same cafe, easy-going street feel it’s had in the past,” Kaiser said.
Michael O’Leary owns Temple Bar and Grill and says the festival will certainly be missed.
“It’s a great 10 days. It’s not only a nice boost to the business during the Jazz Fest, but it brings people downtown who don’t normally come downtown,” O’Leary said.
Bethany York, a barista at Java’s Cafe nearby, agrees.
“Bummed. Really, really bummed. We love Jazz Fest, it’s a great time for us. It’s crazy, it’s chaotic, but it’s like a bonding experience for all of us,” York said.
But from a business perspective, O’Leary says it isn’t a huge blow.
“I don’t think any of us really expected the festival to be happening this year at all, so none of the businesses in the area we’re really counting on the festival this year,” O’Leary said.
Instead, York and O’Leary are just glad the festival isn't being canceled again. And both are hopeful it will return to downtown in 2022.
"It’s important that the events get rescheduled. It’s kind of the lifeblood of this area,” O’Leary said.
And Kaiser couldn’t agree more. After all...it’s home.
“The best Jazz Fest will happen downtown. This is the best place in the world to have it,” Kaiser said.
The festival will take place July 30 through August 7.