Area businesses get boost as Mud Hens season starts

The Toledo Mud Hens opened the home portion of their season on Thursday.

A lot has changed since the Mud Hens moved downtown about 15 years ago.

"People are starting to hang downtown Toledo a ton," said Tom Van Wingen, co-owner of The Handlebar.

And while opening day is about baseball, it has grown into one of the highlights of the year, signifying the unofficial start to the summer.

And it's boosting business.

"Pretty much from the Walleye opener to the Hens opener, to the end of the Hens, it's busy all the time," said David Keen, general manager at Pizza Papalis.

At the Blarney, crowds spilled outside into the patio area.

But it's not just traditional businesses like bars and restaurants that are finding they can make a few extra bucks during these peak times of the year.

More and more street vendors and musicians are lining the high-traffic walkways; and it's legal with a permit.

Van Wingen's business is hardly tradition; the multi-patron moving pub was a big hit on opening day.

"We've been keeping an eye on (downtown) Toledo because we've wanted to get something going like this for a few years now," said the native of the Detroit area.

The business started last fall -- this was its first opening day.

"The more people that are outside having a good time, the better. We try to be a part of that too."

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