BIG BEAR LAKE - The manhunt for triple murder suspect Christopher Jordan Dorner caused mild to serious interruptions for businesses in this mountain resort town.

The heavy snowfall that fell before the weekend should have been a boon for a town where winter fortunes rise and fall with snow levels. One resort manager said the storm attracted enough visitors to fill all 100 rooms at the hotels where she works.

In other cases, however, business managers said customers decided to stay home rather than face the prospect of taking a weekend trip in the middle of the extensive manhunt for the former police officer.

Pizzeria owner Wendy Murray said she lost 20 percent to 30 percent of her regular business.

Skiers and snowboards make their way toward the Bear Mountain slopes near the resort that once housed the command post for the Christopher Dorner manhunt
Skiers and snowboards make their way toward the Bear Mountain slopes near the resort that once housed the command post for the Christopher Dorner manhunt in Big Bear on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. Search crews were reduced 25 personnel on Sunday from 50 the day before, and the parking lot was reopened to skiers and snowboarders. (Rachel Luna / Staff Photographer)
The drop-off was at its most noticeable Friday, one day after investigators found a burning pickup truck believed to be Dorner's.

"We kept our business open because he's not coming in for pizza if he's in hiding," said Murray, who owns Saucy Mama's Pizzeria.

But business was slow, and Murray said friends in Big Bear Lake's hospitality industry had to deal with last-minute cancellations from vacationers who fretted that Dorner may attempt to hide in a mountain cabin.

Golden Bear Cottages, a company that lets out nearly 30 vacation rentals and also has a souvenir store downtown, is among the mountain enterprises that lost business, manager Chris Gonzales said.

At least four or five customers decided to stay down the hill, and the cancellations were made "especially by people with children," she said.

What's more, downtown Big Bear Lake was a poor place to do business on Friday.

"It was horrible. Friday was a no-sale day for most of the stores here," Gonzales said. "We usually close at 8, and we were closed and out of here by 5."

But on Sunday afternoon, Big Bear Lake's streets and sidewalks were fairly vibrant with shoppers and visitors wearing winter sports attire.

For Jaqueline De La Mancha, manager of Fireside Lodge, Deer Creek Resort and Wolf Creek Resort, the snowfall was sufficient to make up for any slowdown that could have otherwise been blamed on the manhunt.

"We did see a lot of cancellations," she said, "but because of the fresh new snow, we were able to fill all three lodges."

Venice Beach resident Alex Nice drove into Big Bear Lake on Saturday with his girlfriend for his birthday. The couple planned the trip a month ago and said that when they heard of the Dorner search there was no doubt that they'd still come enjoy some time in the snow.

"From what I understand, he's up here with a vendetta against the cops, so I don't think the public has much to worry about," Nice said. "And besides that, I think the truck was a diversion. He's not up here."

Staff Writer Mariecar Mendoza contributed to this report.


andrew.edwards@inlandnewspapers.com