It has been interesting to watch as the transformations around town have started to kick in. The incubator project spruced up the old post office. The Sims Park project will transform the park. The city is involved with a number of projects to improve the appearance of the city, including the US 19 landscaping project, the residential grant program, and the business grant program.
That is not to say that the city is driving all of this. The business community is stepping up its game as well. We are going upscale. One of the best examples is what has happened over the course of the last year among our local restaurants.
The best known example of of this was the arrival of the Dulcet on New Year’s Eve. They opened at a price point that allowed them to offer a fine dining experience. They have combined it with an intimate venue for various bands to perform. There were a lot of people who were skeptical that a place like the Dulcet could make it in New Port Richey. The Dulcet has set a standard that others are now moving to match.
Boulevard Beef & Ale has just updated its menu. There are several items that look very interesting. Carolyn and I are working our way around the downtown restaurants with Aiko, our daughter-in-law. Boulevard Beef is on the list to visit.
In an interesting move, you qualify for a 25% discount if you have theater reservations at Richey Suncoast or Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre and you make dinner reservations at Boulevard Beef 24 hours in advance.
Roses’ Bistro looks nothing at all like what it did when it was the Market Off Main. Their “official” menu is similar to what it used to be, but they have a whole bunch of new “specials” that you will want to ask about. Naturally, you can still get the Cuban with Black Beans and Rice, just like Juan used to make them.
Johnny Grits does an excellent job with food presentation at a very reasonable price point. The fact that the menu is different from anything you’ve ever seen just adds to the adventure.
Joey’s Italian Restaurant in the Southgate Shopping Plaza and the Thai Bistro in the Palm District (Main Street between the bridge and US 19) both offer meals that put the national chains to shame.
Perhaps the biggest surprise to me has been the Spartan Manor. Once best known for cheap rubber chicken dinners, they threw a bash for Northbay Hospital’s 50th Anniversary that had me wondering aloud whether they had stolen the Dulcet’s chef. The catch? The organizers had to be willing to pay enough to cover an amazing meal. Would the guests pay for tickets expensive enough to cover the cost? The room was packed.
The common factor for all of these restaurants is that they have decided it is better to do things right and charge accordingly rather than trying to “out cheap” the competition. The Dulcet proved and the others have realized that people in the Greater New Port Richey area are willing to pay for quality.
The new ice cream parlor at the corner of Main and Bank appears to be staying busy. It is the experience of going into the ice cream parlor that makes the the trip worthwhile. There are friendly people who let you know that they are glad to see you walk in the door. They are offering a quality product and excellent service. With that combination, price is not the primary consideration.
Construction on the new Beef O Bradys downtown should start soon. I suspect that it will do just fine once it opens for business. There is a place for a sports theme restaurant downtown. I don’t see it hurting the local restaurants that are already here. Each one of them is staking out a place in the downtown restaurant scene and striving to be the best at what they do.
The move toward quality over price is spreading to other businesses in New Port Richey.
In my own business, we have concentrated on selling quality products at a fair price and avoided recommending solutions solely on the basis of low price. Paying the price to do something right the first time beats doing something “on the cheap” and then having to do it over. Our service business is also changing. The clients we are looking for are the ones that appreciate the difference between “break and fix” and “managed”. It is the difference between reactive and proactive.
We would far rather help our clients keep their computers and networks running smoothly as opposed to coming in on an emergency basis to address a failure that is creating a crisis. When they get a popup telling them that they have a problem, we want them to call us rather than dialing a toll free number where somebody will try to separate them from hundreds of dollars to fix a bogus problem. Better yet, we want to make sure our clients are running the best possible anti-malware software and know better than to click on the attachments or links that cause the popups in the first place.
Part of my morning ritual is to review the overnight alerts generated by our Managed IT client network monitoring system and review traffic graphs that tell me how our Managed IT clients’ Internet connections are performing.
The downtown renaissance is only one part of what makes New Port Richey a great place to live. There is something going on almost every weekend. We just had Bike Fest the weekend before last and one of the few high school homecoming parades ANYWHERE in Florida was this past Friday. There was a sidewalk art show on Saturday.
There is more coming:
The First United Methodist Church of New Port Richey is going to be holding a Fall Festival this coming Saturday. It should be great fun for the kids. The adults will have the opportunity to dress up Saturday evening for Greater New Port Richey Main Street’s Hollywood Horror Night. Looking for something lighter? There is a comedy at the Richey Suncoast Theater. Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre has a new show starting on October 30th.
For good measure, there will be tours of the Hacienda Saturday from 11:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday. This is your chance to see what the Hacienda looks like before the renovations are started.
One final observation: Has anybody else noticed that the shopping plaza immediately west of Main Street Landing has suddenly started filling up? We now have a florist in the plaza again and the Monogram House has moved back from US 19.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor