Creekside's business owners seem to have at least one thing in common: They all think the city gave them a welcome reception.

Creekside's business owners seem to have at least one thing in common: They all think the city gave them a welcome reception.

Lori Graff at Casabella opened the day after Thanksgiving -- on "Black Friday."

"We've had a wonderful reception," said Graff, whose company provides interior-design services to residents. "We've had quite a bit of walk-in traffic, including two quite big design jobs as a result of walk-in traffic."

She said she likes the Creekside idea -- the concept of merchants and residences on the riverside. All of the merchants work together, she said.

"From a merchant point, what more can I ask for?" Graff said.

Casabella is at 120 Creekside Plaza, next to the Breadbasket. This is the first time Graff has had a business, she said. A friend bought one of the condos at Creekside Way and told her about the atmosphere there.

Jeff Curran at Cold Stone Creamery, 508 Creekside Plaza, has three other Cold Stone franchise operations. For the past year, this one actually did a little better than the others, he said.

"It got off to a great start," he said.

He said he thinks having a business with a recognized brand helped but that the Gahanna location has been good from the start.

"When we finished our first year, our Creekside location was a little bit better than some of our other locations," he said. "That's really good."

With such a wintry start to the new year, business is a bit slow for all ice cream parlors, Curran said.

"Ice cream consumption is consistent across the year," he said. "It's just that people eat ice cream at home during the winter. We do really well in the summer time."

The city's festivals, concerts in the park, movie nights and other events held at Creekside help a lot for his sales, he said.

"And the city of Gahanna does a lot of events," he said. "That helps us quite a bit."

He pointed to the Holiday Lights! parade, for example, saying that and such events as the Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival help bring the crowds in and help Gahanna to establish its Creekside brand.

Curran said although sales have been good, he expects them to get better as the city's center, Olde Gahanna, continues to mature and fill in.

"I think that is the only thing that will really help us" more, Curran said.

He pointed to the downtown area in other outerbelt cities, such as Worthington and Westerville

"They have been filled in for years," he said.

The foot traffic goes along well-worn patterns, he said. "It's just going to take some time for Creekside" to develop that kind of established clientele.

Curran said he thinks that as residents of Gahanna embrace Creekside as their own, the merchants will fare better.

"The residents say that this is 'our' downtown area," Curran said. "The residents will benefit, and we will benefit."

He said the residents will bring visitors to Creekside and show them their city center.

"They'll bring the visitors out and say, 'Let me show you what we have done,'" he said. "Not a lot of cities have this. I encourage residents to give feedback to their council members about what they like and what they want to see down here."

Toni Pasch, owner of Jewels and More, 122 Creekside Plaza, has a hook that has helped her in her first year at Creekside, she said. The Pandora line of jewelry, including its bracelets and charms, has meant return business.

Pasch described her business as a boutique, where prices range from $6 to $300. Along with the Pandora line, Jewels & More carries other jewelry, beads, purses and novelty items.

"Christmas went very well for us." She said.

She also said the Pandora line has brought in business not only from Gahanna, but also from areas to the east, including Granville, Newark and Heath. Pasch said the city also has helped with her business, as has the community. The store also carries items in the colors of Gahanna schools.

Toni and her husband, Terry, looked around the city, at Creekside and the area and then made a commitment to open at 122 Creekside Plaza.

"We moved back from Louisville to open this store," Pasch said. "I had no doubt when I looked at Creekside that it was the right place for the shop."

Pasch had spent a year-and-a-half refining her business concept. She said she's concerned about the downturn in the economy but said she has established a good client base to help weather this storm.

State and local officials and private enterprise joined together May 1 to celebrate the opening of Creekside, a private-public project that was 10 years in the making.

Creekside features 100,000 square feet of retail and office space, 71 condominiums and 35,000 square feet of public and parking space.

Stonehenge president Mo Dioun said he first got involved with the project in February 2003, when he submitted a project proposal. He said Creekside is possible because of a true public-private partnership.