Cheshire Bridge closure is a big headache for small businesses

Cheshire Bridge Road could be closed for up to a year.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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Cheshire Bridge Road could be closed for up to a year.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Survival could depend on which side of Peachtree Creek you’re located

The recent announcement that it could take a year or more to repair the bridge that takes Cheshire Bridge Road over Peachtree Creek landed like a gut punch for businesses in the area.

“We were just coming out of the pandemic,” said Sam Samroni, owner of 2Qute Hair Salon, whose business is located on Cheshire Bridge Road less than a half-mile southwest of the bridge over Peachtree Creek that was catastrophically damaged in a fire Aug. 4.

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Several business owners and employees in the area, especially on the west side of Peachtree Creek, expressed concerns about how the road closure would affect business in the coming year. Despite the 2Qute hair salon’s distance from the damaged bridge, a “Road Closed” sign has been added to the eastbound lane of Cheshire Bridge Road at the intersection with Wellbourne Drive, directly in front of the salon’s parking lot.

“The signs are not helping,” Samroni said. He owns a second salon, Sam’s Hair Salon, on the same stretch of road.

Closer to the damaged bridge, the Solstice Morningside apartment complex did not have a manager available to speak with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Associates in the leasing office, who asked not to be identified, said they expected a decline in business. They anticipated that potential new renters would be turned off by the limited accessibility of the location, which is expected to last as long as most lease agreements.

The road in front of Solstice Morningside was heavily lined with orange cones demarcating a new traffic pattern. Cheshire Bridge Road is usually a four-lane road but has been temporarily narrowed to two lanes to make room for construction equipment.

Across the street at Hookah Hookup, a smoke shop that sells hookahs and other paraphernalia, an employee working the counter said there had been a dip in customer traffic. Rather than the damaged bridge, he attributed the slowdown to confusion caused by building contractors at the site. There were several cars parked in front of the store, but the parking lot was bordered by orange cones and large pieces of construction equipment.

Both Solstice Morningside and Hookah Hookup are beyond the “Road Closed” sign that sits in front of 2Qute Hair Salon.

On the other side of Peachtree Creek, Taqueria del Sol was forced to close down for the day Aug. 5 as Atlanta fire crews battled the natural gas-fueled blaze for nearly 24 hours. Despite the fact that Taqueria del Sol is one of the closest businesses to the fire-damaged bridge, its location on the northeastern side of Peachtree Creek seems to have dampened the effects of the bridge closure.

“It’s better than I thought it’d be,” restaurant owner Mike Klank told the AJC. Klank said that he had recently seen some customers who are regulars at the taqueria’s Cheshire Bridge Road location at the Westside location instead.

Otherwise, “it’s been OK,” Klank said. “Signage in this direction hasn’t been too bad.”

Across the creek, Samroni said the opposite of his salons. Reduced traffic on Cheshire Bridge Road means fewer walk-ins, he said, while increased traffic on Piedmont Road has caused multiple clients to show up late for appointments or miss them.

Another problem is the temporary signage on I-85, which feeds traffic into the area through exits onto Piedmont Road and Lenox Road. Signs on the interstate indicate that Cheshire Bridge Road is closed, which Samroni believes is misleading drivers who may not understand that his salons are still accessible.

When asked about the timeline of the bridge project, one of Samroni’s customers, who declined to give his name, scoffed and said, “It’s ridiculous!”

Klank took a more fatalistic view.

“It’s one of those things where you just can’t do anything about it,” Klank said. He believes customers will adapt and continue to support the Tex-Mex restaurant’s Cheshire Bridge location.

As he spoke with the AJC on the phone from his car, he stopped mid-sentence with a chuckle.

“Well, I said customers would adapt but I was just driving to the restaurant my usual way and hit the ‘Road Closed’ sign,” he said. “It’s going to take some getting used to.”

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