It didn’t take long for interest to emerge in 416 W. Clinch Avenue. As I noted last week, Le Parigo, which changed to icafe at the beginning of the year, had officially closed. Cedric, the long-term chef and owner moved to France according to a reader commenting on that post. One of the reasons I lamented the closing of the restaurant was the fact that, though only a block and a half from Market Square, it extended the footprint of our dining and entertainment area downtown.
Well, apparently, that reduction in footprint didn’t last long. I hope to have more information later in the week, but, as another very helpful reader pointed out to me in an email this weekend, a beer permit sign was posted sometime in the last few days indicating that Coffee and Chocolate would like to sell beer at the location.
So far, I’ve gotten confirmation from Sharif Harb, owner of Coffee and Chocolate, that this is intended to be a second location of Coffee and Chocolate, but with some significant differences. I mentioned the fact that beer sales are being requested. Mr. Harb also indicated wine and extended food offerings would likely be incorporated in this second location of Coffee and Chocolate. The hope is for a May or June opening.
I’m excited to see people who have been doing business downtown for a long time begin expanding their endeavors. Just as Nancy Solomon opened Rala after a successful run at Reruns and the Wests continue to add new ventures, Sharif and the others would double-down on their investment are making a statement about their faith in downtown business prospects.
I do wonder about locations off Market Square and Gay Street in one respect: many of them form a small island around which nothing can easily be opened to create a shared energy or new attractive district. I wonder if this was part of the problem at Le Parigo. To one side is the YWCA, which can’t be developed. A design company sits on the other side. There is one vacant property two doors down which is being offered by Conversion Properties and that might add to the mix.
Other than that, there is nothing. A massive parking lot sits across the road, no doubt sitting where once fabulous buildings used to reside. It would be nice to have the possibility those buildings would’ve offered. Banks loom on the corners of Clinch and Market, though one of them has the Lunchbox restaurant on the ground level.
Meanwhile, with the first tiny burst of warm weather, Market Square was packed out. I’m feeling this spring will see crowds routinely filling the streets of downtown in numbers we’ve not seen in decades. With Urban Outfitters and the Williamsburg Peanut Shop set to open and other ventures on the way, it may just finally explode. As a result, Market Square may become “so crowded nobody ever goes there anymore,” and you may just find me enjoying the second location of Coffee and Chocolate a block and a half away.