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From Urban to Not So Urban

When I visited Williamsburg last year, one thing that I thought made the neighborhood an awesome place was the existence of unique, reasonably affordable and fun attractions. To me, Barcade was the epitome of Williamsburg. So I was a little taken aback when I read that a second Barcade is opening - in New Jersey.

(from Bernt Rostad on Flickr)

A friend of the blog asked if the presence of Barcade might make me warm up to the Garden State a bit. I feel the same way about Northern New Jersey as I feel about Northern Virginia - no doubt there are interesting neighborhoods and fun things to do, but these places will always be overshadowed by the great urban playgrounds right across their respective rivers.

In a sense, I feel a little disappointed when cool urban places move out to the suburbs. Melt Bar and Grilled is one of my favorite restaurants in Cleveland, both because the food is good and the beer list is extensive, but also because the restaurant seemed committed to being urban. I felt a little letdown when I read that the local chain's third location would be located in a strip mall, on the site of a former gas station, in Cleveland suburbia.

The businesses owners would probably say that they're just following the money, they're going to where people want them to go. That's fine - I get that. But where businesses decide to go can really change the perception of their brand. If Barcade and Melt want their brand to be hip and urban, that's one thing. If they start moving into the suburbs because people out there are clamoring for them, then they give up that image in the process.


B. P. Beckley said…
I hear you, I hear you. Looks like Independence is only the first of many suburban Melt locations that Matt Fish would like to open, and I would say he is undoubtedly following the money.

On the other hand, you can think of it this way: a successful restaurant chain is putting money in the hands of Matt Fish the person, and Matt Fish the person probably really is interested in cool urbanism, and maybe the next thing he does will that money will be something you'd like as much as you liked Melt. Maybe too pollyannish, but I think a financially successful Matt Fish is better for Lakewood and Cleveland Heights (and by extension other urban parts of the Cleveland zone) than a guy who's struggling to make payroll...empty storefronts don't do anything for anybody.

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