People. Restaurants. Downtown.
TNT photo by Lui Kit Wong
I ate lunch yesterday at Pacific Grill in downtown Tacoma. Despite construction, I parked in one of my usual spots on Market Street, one long city block up the hill from Pacific and 15th. Rain was intermittent. Business was brisk.
Midway through my soup and sandwich, I looked out the window and over at Sea Grill, the restaurant that opened shortly before Pacific Grill in mid-2005 and which ceased lunch service last week.
It was dark inside Sea Grill. Some people ate at the bar, overlooking Pacific Avenue. I knew from their pin-stripe kitchen pants and chefs coats that they weren't customers.
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A month ago, I parked a little farther north on Market Street, my usual parking haunts for this particular destination, and ate a lonely lunch of steak, mashed potatoes and veggies at Varsity Grill.
I walked around afterward and saw empty restaurants and very few people on the street.
Two weeks ago, I had a fine Saturday breakfast at Puget Sound Pizza –- eggs, perfectly over-easy, sprinkled with fresh parsley; home fries that looked and tasted cooked; bacon that was just shy of burned; and a biscuit, split and grilled.
I walked around afterward and saw empty everything. I let my dog off leash.
A downtown Tacoma restaurant owner sent me an e-mail recently. Reading between the digital lines, it sounded like the restaurant was being sold or shut down. This much was crystal clear: The restaurant owner was angry for having drunk the Downtown Revival Kool-Aid. The restaurants came. Where's the retail? More condos are coming. Where's the retail?
I'm looking for more facts in the story behind Blue Olive's (temporary) closure. But one cannot be wrong in assuming that the Thea's Landing martini bar suffered from a lack of customers, the same fate, one would assume, that befell Sea Grill's lunch. Downtown businesses need foot traffic. I don't see foot traffic.
A sous chef from Blue Olive recently landed at Pacific Grill. I hope those guys at Sea Grill yesterday weren't eye-balling a potential employer across the street. I'd like to think they were taking a lunch break from their dinner preparations and dreaming about an REI on Pacific with a view of Mount Rainier, or a maybe a movie theater and a bowling alley to go with the museums ...
Which leads me to a Simmering Question: You folks have some measure of disposable income for dining out. Many of you dine out in downtown Tacoma. To complement your meals, what kind of shopping or entertainment activities do you want in downtown Tacoma? Dinner and (fill in the blank).