Page 13 - BusinessWest May 2, 2022
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tions — think colleges and the Emily Dickenson Museum — and the abil- ity to have a global dining experience among our restaurants,” she said.
Global dining is more than hyper- bole, as downtown Amherst lists 43 restaurants featuring cuisines from all over the world. Each one has an intriguing story.
Indeed, Antonio Marquez moved from Guadalajara, Mexico to Amherst because his wife’s family lives there. As he researched where to open his res- taurant, Mexcalito Taco Bar, Marquez considered several towns in the Pio- neer Valley and credits destiny for mak- ing Amherst his choice.
“This is the best spot for us because we have a family connection here and we like the fact that Amherst is a uni- versity community,” Marquez said.
While Mexcalito was ready for busi- ness prior to the pandemic, Marquez held off when the world shut down and decided instead to open in July 2021. Now 10 months in business, Marquez said his goal with Mexcalito is for cus- tomers to learn something new about Mexican culture through the eatery’s food and drinks.
“When people come in, they feel
a different ambience, hear different music,” Marquez said. “We’re looking to do more with sophisticated Mexican cuisine and we will be adding 20 new drinks to our cocktail menu.”
He added that Amherst is the right place for Mexcalito and appreciates his relationship with the town. “We’re feel- ing like we fit here, it’s pretty cool.”
The broad goal moving forward is create more of these ‘fits,’ said Gould and Pazmany, noting that the Drake is another intriguing example.
That facility fills the need for a music venue for downtown, said Gould, adding that her mindset as she tries to help bring other new business- es to the town is to meet other identi- fied needs.
“As we look at different entities, we are trying to curate our mix of busi- nesses,” Gould said. “In that way we can bring in what we’re missing and make Amherst a vibrant and vital destination.”
That strategy is reflected in the 13 businesses that are opening in the next few months. Among the businesses Gould hopes to see are a fish market, a brewery, and a breakfast/lunch café.
“I have a list of businesses Amherst needs,” Gould said. “We don’t have them yet, but we’re working on it.”
House Money
While the business community is rebounding from COVID, the real estate boom that began during the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down in Amherst.
An outdated perception of Amherst is that only college students and retir- ees lived there, said Pazmany, adding
that these days, when a house goes up for sale real estate agents are bombard- ed with at least a dozen cash offers, all above the asking price.
“Because the pandemic has allowed a number of people to work from any- where, many are choosing Amherst for the quality of life it offers,” Pazmany said. “One realtor told me most of her clients are people who grew up here and are returning.”
In a good news/bad news twist, UMass and Amherst College are con- tributing to the housing shortage as both keep moving up academic rank- ing lists.
“We’re seeing people from literally
Paul Bockelman says housing
is just one of many priorities that have emerged in discussions about how
to best spend ARPA funds.
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