Cobb Business Owners Bemoan Loss Of All-Star Game Revenue At Lunch With GOP Congressmen

Gus Tselios, owner of the Marietta Diner, says the loss of this year’s MLB All-Star Game will hurt but is “not the end of the world.”

Emil Moffatt / WABE

Gus Tselios, who owns the busy 1950s-style Marietta Diner, says the special All-Star Game menu he was working up for July will have to stay on the shelf for now.

“It’s not the end of the world. Like I said, we’re going to move on, we’ve been through worse,” said Tselios. “But it’s just a little bit hard – it hurts a little bit because it was going to be a fun week.”

In early April, Major League Baseball announced it was moving the All-Star Game to Denver after Georgia Republicans passed a sweeping overhaul of the state’s election laws.

Tselios say baseball’s decision will cost his restaurant money. He was one of a handful of business owners who shared concerns over lunch Tuesday with three Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

Sandra Cook, who owns Catered Southern Events, says losing that extra revenue in July is a big blow, especially on the heels of the pandemic.

“I’m gonna speak for my friends that are caterers, these restaurants and, sadly, the things that had to close – but they’re all affected by what has gone on. And now this,” said Cook.

Before the pandemic, Cook took out a loan in order to purchase a food truck. But she put those plans on hold and used those dollars to keep her employees on the payroll. Cook says the lunch was an opportunity to tell lawmakers her story.

“They’re listening to us finally,” Cook said of the three GOP representatives in attendance, including Georgia Congressmen Barry Loudermilk and Drew Ferguson.

Sandra Cook, who owns a catering company in Cobb County, takes a photo with U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)
Sandra Cook, who owns a catering company in Cobb County, takes a photo with U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

Loudermilk, Ferguson and McCarthy all defended Georgia’s new voting law.

The law adds ID requirement to vote by mail. For smaller counties, it mandates absentee ballot drop boxes and an extra Saturday of early voting. But for larger counties, the law slashes the number of drop boxes and could allow the state to exert more control over local elections.

The Republican-backed bill passed despite no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 elections. Still, Rep. McCarthy says it was baseball that acted hastily.

“I think Major League Baseball should find a way to make it up to this community because they made an uninformed decision. and they harmed a lot of people who are out of work and could have made overtime,” he said.

Mitch Rhoden also attended the lunch. He’s an executive with Futren Hospitality, which manages golf clubs in the Atlanta area.

“To put a face on the reality of decisions like this, which impact small business and businesses that you never hear about — not Coca-Cola or Delta or big businesses — but small businesses, which really make up the fabric of our community,” said Rhoden.