One of the ugly truths about our beautiful area has nothing to do directly with our City and everything to do about New England.
We have nasty, beat-your-spirit-down winters.
So many see our environment during the late spring, summer and even up to New Year’s Day and are totally suckered by it. They start businesses here, they buy real estate and live in our gorgeous historic homes and then one day, they wake up surrounded by hip-high snow, flee inside and find themselves shivering in the privacy of their living rooms as the wild freezing winds howl outside their walls.
They ask themselves, “What were we thinking? Who bewitched us into staying here?”
To counteract this problem, our local business community has sought many events and festivals during the winter months to at least get visitors to venture back. Most of these efforts have limited affect. Bird watchers during Eagle Festival hurry from one binocular to the next and rush into the wildlife centers or City Hall. The most upsurge in business comes from shivering customers in our coffee shops. The same goes with our winter festival and other ‘events’.
Yet, most of our shops survive. The secret weapon?
Traffic steadily clogs the access points into our City year round. They’re going to our restaurants. Before and after they go, they want to visit our shops. They want to see our City even if it is a quick run from storefront to storefront. But at least they are here.
When the discussion came about the meals tax surcharge, some claimed that an uptick in the tax would make many fail to eat here. Talk about laughable. Where else can you have a concentration of fine restaurants in one city? Not even malls with their huge restaurant franchises can offer what we can. Where else is such a concentration? The closest is Portsmouth and Salem. We are the logical choice for a fine dining experience.
My wife and I have tried to go to other cities for the same thing as we have here. We tried Haverhill. The police there suggested we have a security escort. Try the drag strips of Salem, NH and Saugus. Nice restaurants along side an ugly congested traffic strip.
But here? Miserable cold or beautiful weather; they come and they come consistently. The charm of Newburyport follows any patron as they open the restaurant door and come inside.
- That is why it is important that our restaurants are not mediocre. Recent efforts have been made to remedy this and some managers need to be reminded. We need every meal to be a special experience.
- That is why the shops around town need to extend their hours. The visitors are here! Don’t let them be in the mood to shop only to face darkened fronts. You may have to give up a comfy home meal after a long day but you’ve got to get them while they are in the mood! The Chamber has been working hard to get this through some of our not-so-bright business owners’ heads.
- That is why Amesbury is working hard to mimic us. They will fail since their sidewalks are rarely packed with roaming restaurant goers but they will try. They can see what works in Newburyport.
We, as businesses and residents, need to have more respect for our restaurants. The historic atmosphere here makes our place beautiful and draws them in but the restaurants keep them here.
They all need our support. Why?
They are literally supporting our City.