Sunday, November 2, 2008

CentrePointe and Dining

I heard from a poster on a forum that I frequent, about behind the scenes conversations dealing with CentrePointe. Seems that the desires are, for a "high end" steak house to have a prime spot in the hotel/condo complex. There were some names offered of national steak houses, along the lines of Morton's, Fleming's and Capital Grille. I have heard that some local houses like Sal's and Malone's could be moving in to the downtown area, but something national is something else.

This got another forum poster involved, to question whether or not we already had too many steak houses and was not the market saturated already.
Ugh, is there anything more generic than a "steak house"?? Seriously, doesnt Lexington (and most towns) pretty much have that market licked.

I mean, its a downtown location. Put something in that isnt found on every block in the suburbs that'll actually get people down there. Doesnt have to be something totally niche & off the wall, but shouldnt be something so cliche as a steak house either.

Besides, the type of people that usually migrate to downtowns like Lexington are usually the kind who like to break from that suburban mold & aren't your average cats. Most are kinda eccentric, probably some vegetarians too.

At least this is how most cities get gentrified. The eccentrics come first, then the norms follow.


This, of course, got my blood going and I responded with things like, an upper level restaurant should not have to tempt all the suburban residents downtown every night, and restaurants in or associated with hotels are not specifically designed to draw people downtown. I think that hotel associated restaurants and even those local ones that locate near hotels are primarily interested in grabbing the traveling visitor. Hotel food is usually out of range of the typical downtown resident in this day and age.

The downtown fine dining establishments need to try to keep the day workers and business people in town rather than let them get home to the suburbs and then make their way back. The only exceptions would be for special occasions and the occasional evening event (Opera House, Rupp Arena). Hotel associated restaurants are a part of this but it is not their "bread and butter", those staying in the hotel are their main guests.

When I look at the Hyatt Regency, and their in-house dining, I don't see the local crowds that I used to. When it first opened as the the Glass Garden, it drew a good number of locals, locals who had not been to a Hyatt hotel or at least one in town. These were generally older patrons dining after church on Sunday or families going out to someplace special. This was also the mid 1970's and Lexingtonian's had a history of going to the hotel and motel restaurants on Sunday, as they were the only places open for these "after church" meals. The Campbell House and The Springs both did a great business in the Fifties and Sixties as places to go eat on Sundays.

Moving forward to the mid 1980's and the opening of the Radisson, by now many chain fast food places and local restaurants had been forced to be open on Sundays and Sunday liquor sales were not far away, but I can't recall the Cafe on the Park drawing large local crowds, ever.

Lexington has moved forward since the Seventies when it had close to 180,000 residents, it now has almost double that. The residents of Lexington have taken on a feeling similar to New Yorkers(except that we feel that we are still a small town), that downtown is where the big businessman goes to work, the rest of us work and shop in suburbia, and I only go downtown when I have too. Going downtown, to today's youngsters is the same as going on a trip to Cincinnati or Louisville to me at that age. Going to see friends on the other side of town means, going around New Circle or Man o' War, not going through downtown.

Maybe that is why the young people of college age, when they "discover" downtown, realize that it is not as bad as they feared and take ownership of what they think others have abandoned, then feel betrayed when the real owners exert their powers and change things.

I see CentrePointe changing downtown in a good way. I see CentrePointe complimenting the existing and planned condominium projects and any other new residential in the downtown area. What I would like to see is enhanced transit options, other housing options and well used(not just often used) public spaces. More good public art, not displayed piles of former scrap metal, is not too much to ask along with displaying pride of ownership of the downtown properties, not just pushing the sale or lease of them.

One more great restaurant or one more great music or art venue is not going to make downtown irresistible for the local resident but they will give us one more option for us to make a good impression on the visiting public. And another good option for a special night out.

No comments: