After a long night of drinking some very tasty beers on the new patio at the Dive Bar I walked out with the idea of getting a sausage from Chris, the new vendor who sets up right outside the Dive on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Thursday I got a pulled pork sandwich that was really really good. Apparently everyone else thought so too because he sold out of it for the weekend already on Thursday night.
Some friends I was with only had $4 between them (not enough for anything Chris sells) so we went down the street to "Moe's Hot Dog's" who set up on the other side of Green St half way between Creegan's and The Lucky Dog. The dogs, at $2 a pop were great and Moe took the time to grill the buns on both sides. Always a plus for me.
Last Saturday night I pretty much stayed in for the night. Around 12:30am I got hungry and so I walked over to the Kenmore and got some grub. Thursday night I got a pulled pork sandwich from Chris's cart outside the Dive, last night Moe's Hot Dog's, tonight maybe it will be Fresh Way or Wings over Worcester.
But here is the bigger point of all of this. These are my options in The Canal District for eating after midnight:
Kelley Sq Pizza: Decent Greek style pizza and okay sandwiches. Nothing spectacular but they are there and they are open until 2:00am AND they deliver.
Wings Over Worcester: Outrageously good wings, bone in and boneless. There is usually a pretty long wait but if you are in the mood for wings it's totally worth it. The place is usually completely packed up so if you are getting wings mostly you are getting them and taking them home.
Fresh Way Pizza: Awful cardboard taste like crap pizza close to three of the bigger mook bars in Worcester, Fusion, The Blackstone Tap, and Jose Murphy's. Due to the mook factor the people behind the counter are dicks to everyone. It's kind of warranted. Still, shitty food, and their delivery kind of blows too.
The Kenmore: A Worcester institution. You always know what you are going to get at the Kenmore which is average at best diner fare and a long wait in line if you get there past 1:15-1:30am. Sometimes it does the job nicely though and it is really your best option in the Canal District if you want to sit down with friends and chill and have a conversation after the bars close.
Chris' Wacky Green Street Sausage Stand: I am not sure what he is calling his business but he offers very non standard fare and pretty decent prices and it is food you can hold in your hand and you don't need a table for it. It gets made quickly and Chris is a pretty friendly dude.
Moe's Hot Dog's: Like I said these hot dogs are made right to my own specifications, grilled dogs, grilled buns. You can get two of them for less than your average beer and they are GOOD.
So I have six options as to where I want to get food in the wee hours in the Canal District. I see myself giving all six of these businesses my patronage again depending on my mood, the circumstances, the color of the moon, which knee is bothering me, if I had a good week at work, if I am feeling social, etc, etc.
You get what I am saying.
More options overall means a better experience for me, the urban Worcester dweller. If they all cancel each other out I know that I will still have options because Kenmore and Kelley Sq Pizza aren't going anywhere. I hope they can all survive though because options and convenience are two of the cornerstones of real city living. Just in one neighborhood if I want to get something to eat between midnight and 2am I have 6 options all within walking distance of each other. This is really awesome.
The thing to note about my above list however is this. At the moment, of the six listed only three are making an effort to serve quality food. Quality for what they do at least. Of course the food at the Kenmore is just as good as the food at Moe's Hot Dog's but I don't have to wait in line with a bunch of bouncing off the wall drunken mooks to give them business. Sometimes I will though because sometimes I will want to sit down with my friends at a table.
Everyone of these places isn't perfect and isn't the absolute best thing for everyone looking to get food in The Canal District at this time. But this is where the real answers to problems comes in.
It's all a numbers game. Simple percentages.
As a business owner instead of worrying about the next guy you should be reaching out to him and working together with the city and with neighborhood representatives to insure that every night you are open for business that there are enough people to go around for all of you to make a little money.
If you only need five customers a day and there are 100 potential customers walking by your business every day well then all you need to do is get 5% of those potential customers to be your customers, right? Now if you can't and the numbers are there the only person you have to blame is yourself. Not your competition, and not the city. Right now the numbers aren't there. Right now the growth of our urban core is a rather new development too. It is way too early in the game to start pointing the finger at each other. Form neighborhood business alliances and work with the city to try and figure out ways to increase the numbers. This is the real answer and the one that will make the city, the people that live in it, and the businesses happy in the end.