Hilltop Shopping Center is open and ready for customers

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By Katy Korkos

The summer of 2008 was not an easy one for business people at the Hilltop Shopping Center, with orange barrels, detours, bulldozers, cement barriers, truck-sized holes in the ground, flaggers and signs directing people every which way, making it hard for customers to visit their favorite restaurants during the Diamond Drive Phase II construction.

The construction season has ended for this year, and there is a new left turn lane with signal to make it easier to turn on to Arkansas. The sight line for oncoming cars is also improved, but the customers haven’t come back in the numbers expected.

Bob Carlson, whose barbecue restaurant Bob’s Bodacious BBQ has been located in the Hilltop Center for three years, believes that people just got out of the habit of coming to the center because they didn’t know how long it might take them to navigate the construction zone.

“The road is open, and we’re still here,” Carlson said. “Our business is down about 20 percent.”

Carlson said that adding that it causes a problem when he has to send employees home early or cut shifts. Those good employees often look elsewhere for steadier work, and are not available to be hired back when business picks back up.

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