New York's cash registers jingling
How do you measure the economic impact of a party? Especially, a big party like the Democratic National convention? For New York City, the arrival of some 3,500 delegates and 7,000 journalists means more money and jobs for caterers, actors, hotel operators, museums, taxi drivers, and security guards. Altogether, estimates Preston Robert Tisch, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Democratic National Convention, the gathering will bring $10 million to the city. Importantly, an additional 5,000 jobs will be created.
Even more important, says Charles Gillett, president of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau, is "the impact of 7,000 journalists spotlight the city."
After the last convention in 1976, the city saw a large jump in its tourism business, which Mr. Gillett says was directly related to the image portrayed by the visiting journalists.
Unfortunately for the city, the publicity is not all positive sometimes. The New York Times just began a front-page series on the city's massive litter problem, and the local news media had a field day when a truck carrying propane gas sprang a leak on the George Washington Bridge. "Thousands Flee," the New York Daily News headlined. Another press report detailed how one taxi driver had taken some cab inspectors on a $132 ride, thinking they were visitn tourists.
However, for the most part, the impact of the convention, says Mr. Gillett, is positive. Journalists are invited to parties at such posh restaurants as the "21" Club; Xenon, a disco; New York, N.Y., another disco-restaurant; and Tavern on the Green. Mayor Edward Koch is to be host of a series of parties at Gracie Mansion, his official residence. And there will be parties at the Metropolitan Opera House and the Museum of Modern Art. Bloomingdale's, the famous department store, will hold its own party.
One of the most sought-after party guests, gossip columnists report, is Phillis George Brown, wife of Gov. John Y. Brown of Kentucky and a national television personality. Mrs. Brown is hosting her own party as well at the "21" Club for 20 governors and their wives.
All the partying will have an obvious economic impact: New York's massive catering sector will be busy serving canapes, shrimp cocktails, and orange Louises. Richard Schumann, operations director of Robert Day-Dean's, a caterer, says the six parties his firm will service, including some of Gracie Mansion, will result in the hiring of extra waiters and pantry personnel. "We will add about 50 percent more people than normal," he says.
Juan Cuyubanba of the Brasserie Restaurant chain reports that the caterer is busy stuffing cold capons, breasts of veal, and sirloins of beef into picnic boxes for the delegates' tours around town. Convention Caters has been preparing meals for the 600 CBS News employees involved in the convention. Convention Caters also is serving ABC News.
New York's theaters also expect to be busy. According to Harvey Sabinson, director of special projects for the League of New York Theatres and Producers Inc., there have been requests for about 1,000 tickets to such Broadway shows as "Evita," "Barnum," "A Chorus Line," "Elephant Man," and "Death Trap." So far, he reports ticket requests are about triple the 1976 level, but still manageable.
Most of the large hotels are booked solid, and many report that they have hired extra staff for the convention. The Waldorf-Astoria is not one of those that has hired extra staff, but its normal staff will be working overtime. About 1,000 conventioneers are staying at the Waldorf.
Nor will the Waldorf be the scene of any major bashes. The California delegation was holding a hospitality party there. But, says hotel spokeswoman Frances Borden, "No one is spending lavishly."
One publicity-conscious publisher, Richard Marek, has decided to use the occasion to hold a party to promote a new book, "A Taste for Power," by Muriel Dobbin. The book is about a presidential election involving a candidate with the name of Caithness. Mr. Caithness seems to be a perfect candidate, except for one characteristic; He is a vampire. A publicists for the firm says "Caithness for President" buttons are hot items on the floor of the convention.