Opinion

Editorial

New Restaurants Will Spice Things Up

Call it the coming burger battle.
That’s one way to describe the upcoming — and in some ways ongoing — change in the restaurant landscape in Greater Springfield.
Indeed, while every restaurant already has a good burger — or two, or three — on the menu, the Springfield area will soon be host to three restaurants specializing in so-called high-end burgers, and there are several other establishments already in the market that might fit that description, depending on how you define it.
It’s safe to say that no one will be asking that question from the early ’80s, ‘where’s the beef?’ It will all around us, and taking interesting names, like the Frankenstein, the Double-Double, Death by Burger, Fatty Melt, and a host of others.
But what does it all mean in the larger scheme of things when it comes to the economic health and well-being of this region? Maybe not much on the surface, but then again, it’s another piece of the puzzle, at a time when the region needs to be filling in those pieces.
As we’ve said on many occasions, the Greater Springfield economy is still in the process of reinventing itself from its days as a manufacturing hub. There are many facets to this reinvention, as the cities that have been through the process with a great deal of success — like Providence, Lowell, New Haven, and others — can attest.
Part of it concerns building vibrancy, creating a buzz, if you will, and making the area in question a destination — a place that people will want to visit, but also work, live, and start a business. High-end burger restaurants can’t do that alone, but they can be part of the broad solution.
As the story on page 6 explains, Max Burger, a category in the Max’s chain that has thrived in Connecticut, has opened in the Longmeadow Shops. Meanwhile, Plan B Burger, which has several locations in Connecticut, is opening in the Basketball Hall of Fame in a few weeks, and Luxe Burger, an operation with one existing restaurant in Providence, is opening in the former visitors center a block from the Hall.
With those latter two, people are already asking ‘where are they going to park all the cars?’ Good. Parking problems are actually a good thing; they connote vibrancy and the fact that people want to come to your city. Northampton has long had a parking problem that other cities and towns in this region would love to have.
The interest shown by these restaurant groups in Greater Springfield — and, more specifically, the city’s riverfront — is encouraging. It shows that this region has the demographics, and the ‘character,’ for lack of a better term, needed to inspire people to take a chance and make a large investment here.
And if these ventures succeed — and we have every reason to expect that they will — then they will likely prompt others to make similar investments. And if that happens, then this region, and Springfield in particular, will have more of that critical mass that will attract more young people, more empty nesters, more businesses, and more jobs. And this will prompt the construction of more market-rate housing that will help create an even more attractive demographic for businesses looking for a place to land or expand.
OK, three high-end hamburger restaurants are not going to do all that. But they can help. They can be part of the process of moving Springfield forward and closer to being the more vibrant city, the destination, that everyone wants it to become.
The burger battles are set to begin. Watch your cholesterol — please — and also watch and see if these new additions can help breathe more life into this area and, well, add some spice to the local economy.
We certainly hope they can.

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