MADISON (WKOW) – An iconic, State Street pasty shop says its numbers indicate large crowds loitering nearby at Philosopher's Grove have caused a loss of up to 40% of its daily business in the past.
Teddywedgers is located at the top of State Street near Philosopher's Grove.
This week, the city began removing the granite stones there used as tables and seating. The Mayor said the move is meant to crack down on bad behavior.
Teddywedgers owner Karima Berkani said she's previously noticed people loitering outside her store fighting, abusing drugs and alcohol, and yelling at those walking by.
“It just seems there's a general lack of safety in that area for a number of reasons,” she said.
“Sometimes I would not feel safe because there was a fight outside the shop,” Berkani said.
Berkani said someone also punched in one of the store's windows in May, She and her brother purchased the store in the fall of 2014.
Berkani said crowds loitering at Philosopher's Grove, as well as at a bus stop in front of the store, can correlate with a drop in business.
She said Teddywedgers saw its daily business drop by 40 percent on days when free food was distributed to the homeless and others loitering at Philosopher's Grove by local charity groups.
Berkani said she thinks that's because the free food draws larger crowds to the area, blocking the entrance to her store.
At Brocach on Capitol Square, general manager Marcos Jimenez said he regularly sees people loitering on benches outside of the business.
“Sometimes people are just laying out, staying for the afternoon. Usually the people there don't cause any problems, they don't make much noise. But they do stay out there for a while,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez also said the business attracts people panhandling along its outdoor patio “once or twice per week.”
Advocate for the homeless Brenda Konkel said she does not support behaviors like violence or drug abuse. But she said the loitering downtown is the result of a lack of a homeless day shelter.
“Where are these people supposed to go?” Konkel said.
“If we're not going to provide services and places for people to be, then they can sit at the top of State Street,” Konkel said.
She said she would like to see the business community work with local non-profit groups, homeless advocates and local government to establish a day shelter and funnel more resources to the homeless.
Konkel also said the city needs more available, affordable housing.
“Everybody needs to get together and come up with solutions,” Konkel said.