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For local businesses, not much of a boost

NEW YORK -- Two blocks south of Madison Square Garden, in a microcosm of what New Yorkers have been experiencing all week in this busy midtown neighborhood, a few feet of pavement told a tale of two cities.

At the southwest corner of West 30th Street and Seventh Avenue stood a police barricade. To cross it, pedestrians needed to show an official ID. Taped to the windows of the nearby Bagel Maven Cafe were signs proclaiming the cafe open, but they might as well have read, ''See You Friday, Folks."

Inside, co-owner Hannah Dvir smiled grimly. An Israeli, she is hardly unsympathetic to security concerns. But this week, her business was off a good 30 percent.

''Will I be relieved when they go?" Dvir said, rolling her eyes. ''Oh, yeah."

Directly south across West 30th Street stood Pizza Town, where owner Rosolino Fiducia said that despite a paucity of regular customers he was doing OK this week.

''No big orders, but a lot of pizza by the slice," Fiducia said. Plenty of hungry police, he added. Plus folks using his bathroom -- even more so than Knicks and Rangers fans -- which was driving him nuts and his water bills through the roof.

Many New Yorkers interviewed yesterday admitted to similarly mixed feelings about the Republicans visiting their backyard. Local business people seemed ready, even eager, for the GOP to pack up and leave. One Seventh Avenue store owner said delayed deliveries and a dearth of back-to-school shoppers had cut deeply into sales, leading her to close two hours early. At an electronics store down the block, a salesman guessed that shoppers had been scared off by the prospect of violent protests.

Andrew Glover, manager of Picasso Hair Salon on West 34th Street, stared at a row of empty cutting stations.

''Usually conventions bring more [business], but all this security has been horrible," he said, adding sorrowfully that not a single conventioneer had dropped in all week.

A block from the Garden entrance, Ed Stueckle and Ron Sala proudly wore their anti-Bush sentiments around their necks as they made their way along a congested sidewalk. Both are Connecticut-based ministers and former New Yorkers. Both said that based upon conversations with Manhattanites this week, city dwellers are ''ecstatic" the elephant herd is leaving.

''When the Elks Club comes here, they don't block off 34th Street," said Stueckle. ''They come here and spend money and don't create disruptions. These delegates spend only a fraction of what it's costing to host them and cause major disruptions."

As temperatures rose and security tightened further yesterday, frustrations mounted. Pedestrians were forced to wait 10 minutes or longer to cross Seventh Avenue at 34th Street. Some met the challenge with a smile and a shrug.

''I don't mind the hassle. And the police have been wonderful," said Donna Chisena, who works a few blocks from the Garden in the Department of Education offices on Seventh Avenue. ''It's sort of exciting, really."

But bicycle messenger Rubin Napoleoni sounded a less patient tone.

''We're making no money, we can't get around the city, and companies we do business with are on vacation. How do you think we feel?" said Napoleoni, leaning against his bike. Even with two IDs in his pocket, Napoleoni said, he could not penetrate the security shield around the Garden, and the 20 runs a day his service averages had dropped to five or six.

''Normally, a senator or mayor, even a president, coming here doesn't screw us up," he said. ''But this week we're dead in the water."

Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at jkahn@globe.com.

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